Yann Martel’s poem for Water

Posted on October 10th, 2009 by .

On October 9th 2009, the One Drop foundation made history by broadcasting a massive planetary event involving 14 cities around the globe….and one man orbiting in space! That man is Guy Laliberté, Cirque du Soleil founder and initiator of the first Poetic Social Mission in space. The purpose?  Raising awareness about the issues facing our planet’s water!
The extraordinary event evolved around a poem written by Quebec author, Yann Martel, which was read by an impressive variety of A-list personalities, artists and activists.
An inspiring tale about the Sun, the Moon, and a little drop of Water. Here is the full poem!
What the Drop of Water Had to Say
a fable by Yann Martel
Sun and Moon were arguing, again.
Brother and sister, they’d wandered the Universe
and found in this corner a good home.
Sun adored being the star of the show,
so many admiring planets spinning in his orbit.
Moon, more modest, was drawn to Earth.
Now Moon was looking at her brother glumly.
“What’s the matter?” asked Sun.
“My planet is drying up,” replied Moon.
“Earth, that speck of dirt? Why do you care?”
“Because it’s my garden. I love Earth,” Moon pouted,
as she slid into a lunar eclipse so she wouldn’t have to see her brother.
“If Earth is drying up,” continued Sun, “why don’t you adopt a nicer planet? There’s Saturn, for example, or Jupiter, they’re both impressive.”
“You don’t understand anything. You’re the dimmest of stars!” bawled Moon.
“Is that so?” huffed Sun, bursting with solar storms.
“Excuse me,” came a small voice from planet Earth.
“What?” said Sun and Moon together. “Who are you?”
“I’m a drop of water,” said Drop of Water. “I need your help.” 



Drop of Water spoke:
“I take many forms, so that all may be pleased.
I can be liquid, as heavy as gold,
as silky as music,
as quenching as poetry.
I can soothe dry throats
and make fields blossom.
I can rush through pipes,
gushing into pots and sinks,
so that while I work,
children may go to school.” 

Rio de Janeiro


Drop of Water continued:
“Fresh, I can push and flow down the broadest arteries,
Amazon, Mississippi, Danube, Nile, Euphrates, Volga, Yangtze, Mekong,
so that great green bodies might be fed.
Salty, I can answer the needs of sailors and seas,
so that fish and ships might float in the blue.
And salty or fresh, from blue oceans or green jungles,
I am the softness in the breath of lungs
that restore the planet.”



“So what’s the problem?” interrupted Sun.
“Look at those beaches, there, there and there,” pointed Moon.
“The ones covered in thick, oozing black?” asked Sun.
“Those very ones,” said unhappy Moon.
“I rather like them. They take my heat in very well.”
“Perhaps, but look at the sad eyes peering through,
blinking seabirds, and hear the coughing fish, gasping for air.”
“I hadn’t noticed,” said Sun, looking closer.
“And look at those rivers and oceans, there, there and there” pointed Moon again.
“With the lovely slicks? My light plays off them so beautifully,” said Sun.
“But look at the lifelessness beneath them.
They’re floating graveyards,” replied Moon.
“I hadn’t noticed,” said Sun, looking closer.

New York


Drop of Water spoke again:
“I can be smaller too, so small that sometimes I,
a drop, am a whale next to the water molecules I meet,
who tirelessly support all living matter,
as discreet as the internal structure of the Statue of Liberty.
No sap or blood can flow without water in it.
There’s no life that doesn’t know me intimately,
there’s no life that can live without me.
I am the heart and soul, the primeval soup,
of all that cares. I arrive with birth and depart with death.” 

Mexico City

“I can mix the fresh and the salty too, for the good of all,
as when the salty sweat of the farmer pours from the furrow of his brow
into the furrow of the earth he has freshly watered.
Of all that moves, I am proudest of the slow growth of grains,
who never forget to nurture their soul, which they call moisture.
Of all the clothes I can wear hanging in my closet,
I am proudest of the one called food.
When I am food, I am celebrated by all
and every mouth seeks to undress me.”



Drop of Water went on:
“I can also be mist, supplying fogs, clouds and morning dews,
or I can be ice, sharing my cool with drinks and penguins. So you see,
I’m pure and simple, eager to please, willing to accommodate.
Drink me, heat me, freeze me, sprinkle me, swim in me,
I give myself to each and every with open heart,
yet so many exploit me.
My dear brothers Chad and Aral are vanishing,
and my sweet Murray-Darling is most undarling.
If I cannot move freely and abundantly,
how can I give freely and abundantly?” 



Sun, struck by concern, peered harder still, and the day became hot.
“What are those ants that crawl in your garden?” Sun asked his sister.
Moon replied, “They’re called humans, my brother.”
“And what do you think of humans, Moon?”
“They’re beautiful but they’re foolish.
When there’s trouble in the world, the men send their women home,
and when there’s trouble in the home, the women send their men out,
so that too often humans are thinking with only half their brains.
They forget what it was like when they were children,
when boys and girls played as equals, splashing water on each other.
Instead women and girls carry jars of water on their heads
to-and-fro from well to home, leaving exhausted prints in the sand.
Are we not all equal before God?”


“And what are humans doing about their plight?” asked Sun.
Drop of Water replied: “Though blameless, I have been judged
and unfairly condemned. I am treated like a raw material.
Oil, that impenitent criminal, mocks me,
‘Can you not turn to vapour? Then save yourself and me!’
I remind Oil that Jesus on the Cross had only one complaint:
‘I am thirsty.’
His final attachment to life on Earth was precious water.
Have we still not learned that with loving kindness
we should slake the thirst not only of gods but of each other?
Surely what He deserved by grace, we deserve by right.
To partake of water is no less a need than to partake of love.
Oil laughs, as remorseless as vinegar.”


“I despair,” said Drop of Water, “and I retreat to colder, calmer climes.
I seek peace in the meditation of ice.
Icebergs are Buddhist monks I send forth,
released into the world from the great monasteries of the Poles.
Their mantra is the blue light humming within their frozen cores.
Their message is peace and oneness,
but alas they simply vanish.
Every year monks leave me and never return.”


“Still I give,” continued Drop of Water, “or I take, as the need may be.
So when I am holy Ganges, and I am always holy Ganges,
I give to the living and I take away the dead.
Nothing has more good karma than water,
which never seeks release from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth,
but always returns to serve others.”
Santa Monica


“I am moved by your plight,” said Sun.
“What do other creatures say,
the ones that aren’t half-brained?”
Drop of Water replied:
“The ones that live within me are constant in their lament.
They weep and give me their salty tears in hopes of nourishing me.
From shrill krill to barking sharks to blues-singing whales,
all mourn the ruination of their neighbourhood.
As for creatures of the land,
they come to see me every hot day,
bears to my lakes,
hippos to my rivers,
zebras to my water holes,
and all drop their heads in sadness.
Lastly the creatures of the sky,
their misery is such that they buckle and plummet,
and those that can float find comfort directly on me,
while those that would sink seek refuge in lifeboats they call nests.”



Sun turned to his sister Moon and said:
“You are right to love your garden.
It is beautiful.
Water is a hundred billion clasped hands,
a great chain that embraces the globe,
I see that now.
This planet is like no other I know,
a solitary kite in the sky,
a whistle in the dark,
a song amid the dreary,
a dance in the middle of foot-dragging,
a dazzle of colour splashed onto a drab wall.
Truly this garden of yours is a gem,
a sapphire of incomparable blue.” 


“Is there any hope?” asked Sun and Moon together.
“Oh yes,” said Drop of Water.
“In the beginning was water
and to water there is no end.
Water is a child, holder of future,
so let the child be.
It’s a question of balance,
between abundance and scarcity,
between use and abuse.
A day will come soon, I hope,
when I will be owned by none and shared by all,
when I will be sullied by none and nourish all,
when I will be taken freely and given freely.
In the beginning was water
and to water there is no end.
Water is a child, holder of future,
so let the child be.
A day will come soon, I hope,
when we will start over,
at peace with water,
at peace with our future,
one planet, one drop.”
(The End)

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