Poem for Petrichor

Photo: Viktorya Sergeeva


After weeks of dry weather, the rain
falls on dry grass, stone, soil, flowers –
sending a fragrance to the playing child
and rising to the gods who once
were the only ones so naturally perfumed.


That pleasant-to-some-of-us smell that can accompany the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather has been given the name “petrichor” (PET-ri-kuhr). It is a modern word, taken from the Ancient Greek words πέτρα (pétra) ‘rock’ or πέτρος (pétros) ‘stone’, and ἰχώρ (ikhṓr), which was said to be the blood of the gods in Greek mythology. This unique, earthy fragrance comes from rain combined with plant oils, compounds in the dry soil, the ozone in the air, and geosmin from soil that is released into the air.

Reading Lucretius

this twenty-first century morning makes me

a Roman meditating a thousand years ago

On the Nature of Things, a universe

without gods, made from very small particles,

eternal motion colliding, swerving in new directions.

 

This poem was inspired by reading The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. For a more in-depth version of my thoughts on all this, see “On the Nature of Things” on my Weekends in Paradelle blog.