Get the latest
Recent Posts

Book of the Week — Earth Day Cards: Eight Meditations

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wildness yet…

Earth Day cards: Eight Meditations on the Spirit of our Planet…
Desert Rose Press
Galisteo, NM: Desert Rose Press, 1990
NC1866 E2 1990

Each year, April 22 marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. Celebrated since 1970, the event is known around the globe as Earth Day

From the onset of the Industrial Revolution to the decades leading up to the very first Earth Day, most people living in the United States remained largely oblivious to pollution and other issues harming the environment and human health. When Rachel Carson published her bestseller, Silent Spring, in 1962, public awareness finally began to grow and enter into the mainstream narrative. The non-fiction work, which documented the environmental harm caused by pesticides, sparked broader conversations among Congress, perhaps even influencing a junior senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson.

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons.
It is to grow in the open air, and to eat and sleep with the earth

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet
and the winds long to play with your hair

— Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)

Like so many others, Senator Nelson had been deeply impacted by the massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969. Looking toward the anti-war protests on campuses across the nation, he hoped to harness that same kind of energy around issues surrounding  air and water pollution. He petitioned the idea of a “teach-in” to national media outlets and even persuaded California’s Republican Representative, Pete McCloskey, to join him in a bi-partisan effort. Together, they recruited a young activist named Denis Hayes to organize the event. They chose April 22, a weekday between Spring Break and final exams,  to maximize the greatest student participation. Hayes was able put together a national staff of eighty-five to promote the event across the country, enlisting the help of a wide range of organizations and faith groups. 

O Hidden Life vibrant in every atom;
O hidden Light shining in every creature;

O hidden Love embracing all in Oneness;
May each who feels himself as one with Thee,
Know he is also one with every other

— Annie Besant (1847-1943)

The blowing wind, the mild, moist air,
exquisite greening of trees and grasses:
In their beginning, in their ending,
they give God their praise

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1175)

The first ever Earth Day inspired some twenty million Americans to take to the streets to demonstrate and protest against the deterioration of the environment — from oil spills and polluting factories, power plants, sewage waste, and toxic dumps, to the increasing loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife. In 1970, concern for the planet had achieved a rare political alignment, finding support across party lines, economic classes, and geographic locations. The success of the first Earth Day ultimately led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of several environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act.  

My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through earth’s loveliness.”
— Michelangelo (1475-1564)

May all things move and be moved in me and know and be known by me,
may all creation dance for joy in me.

— Chinook Psalter

In 1990. on the twentieth anniversary, Denis Hayes and other environmental leaders organized and took Earth Day worldwide, mobilizing some two hundred million people in more than one hundred different countries. On the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico Clifford Burke and Virginia Mudd took the opportunity to create a production of letter-press printed cards which both commemorated the event but also marked the beginning of their joint venture, the Desert Rose Press. This series of eight cards contains poems, songs, and prayers for the planet together with a monoprint image of the earth, reproduced by offset lithography. For Burke and Mudd, the cards are akin to prayer flags, made with the hope that they would touch the hearts and minds of all those who receive them. 

Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God…
— Elizabeth Browning (1806-1861)

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wildness yet.
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Clifford Burke and Virginia Mudd first crossed paths in 1989, each coming from the world of private press publishing. Burke’s career blossomed among the San Francisco Renaissance. Starting out in Haight Ashbury in the 1960s, Burke began fine press printing alongside Adrian Wilson at the Tuscany Valley Press. He later developed his own imprint, Cranium Press, which grew into a respected poetry publishing enterprise, producing books for nationally recognized writers. Mudd, on the other hand, studied book arts at Mills College and had worked as an apprentice at the Arif Press in San Francisco. She was planning to move to New Mexico and set up her own shop when she met Burke. The two struck up a partnership, combining equipment and type collections, and now continue to produce limited edition literary works that blend hand crafts with digital technology.



1 Comment
  • Alexander Jolley
    Posted at 15:17h, 25 April Reply

    The inclusion of older pseudo-environmental quotes is a very interesting choice for this book, while the modern environmental movement was created in 1970, humans have always had a connection to nature. We are stewards of the Earth, not controlling masters: Genesis 1:28.
    Silent Spring is also a really interesting book, Rachel Carson wrote the book after there was a distinct lack of birds one spring around her home, causing the air to be silent of bird songs. She blames pesticides and other chemicals for their disappearance.

Post A Comment