To Have and To Hold: Sustainability and the Language of Love in Terry Tempest Williams, Pattiann Rogers and Aldo Leopold

By Bonney MacDonald

Abstract: This essay offers reflection on the question of what love has to do with sustainability and environmental awareness. Examining Terry Tempest Williams’ Desert Quartet, Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and Pattiann Rogers’ Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems, the article explores how and when environmental consciousness arises. The three selected authors offer insight on the roles played by environmental trauma, close and empathetic identification with animals and place, the power of close observation, and the constitutive power of praise. Finally, an etymological reading of the word, “sustain,” suggests new definitions of what it means to have and to hold, to make a pledge to environmental awareness. The essay concludes that the vocabulary and emotional commitment prompted in acts of sustainability partakes in the language of love.

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