Poem of the week: ‘Only One Home’ by Alexander McCall Smith for the WWF

  08 Nov '21   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Our poem of the week was written exclusively for the World Wildlife fund by Alexander McCall Smith. ‘Only One Home’ is featured as part of the WWF Scotland’s Great Scottish Canvas project, and has special resonance during COP26 when leaders are debating the future of our planet.

Only One Home
Alexander McCall Smith, 2021

It's always useful, we're told,
To ensure a spare is ready to hand: 
About the house an extra pair
Of spectacles may come in useful,
A front door key, or two perhaps,
Concealed for emergency use;
These things are simply prudent, signs
Of a cautious mentality, of planning ahead
For the unexpected, the contingency
We never thought would come about;
And yet there are some important things,
Of which we may possess only one: 
Each of us has only one heart, one life,
One memory in which to lodge the remembrance
Of the things we know and love; 
These are private and individual limitations;
Singularity applies, though, just as much
To that which belong to all: 
We have only one home, one planet,
One earth on which each of us may sit down
And speak of and treat as our own: 
Only one, irreplaceable, unduplicated
By a spare earth somewhere else;
 Just this one, this one we love. 
And that, perhaps, is what we might
Tell ourselves as we look upon it
With a lover's eyes, this precious place, 
Source of all meaning to us, 
Site of all that we've ever known. 
Ever felt, or ever dreamed about, 
This spinning place, green and blue.
Shrouded at times by cloud, made golden
By sunsets that make us want to cry; 
This is the only one we have; 
This is the one that we must cherish,
Distinctive in the light of our individual moods
And different ways of looking at things,
Yet equally dear, equally nourishing,
Equally in need of our stewardship
Now, as never before; our only home.

The above poem was written as part of WWF Scotland’s Great Scottish Canvas project. View the virtual exhibition online now:

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