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Patti Smith and Greta Thunberg
Patti Smith via Democracy Now! YouTube still; Greta Thunberg via Instagram

Patti Smith wrote Greta Thunberg a poem for her birthday

‘Happy birthday/ to Greta, who stood today/ as every Friday, refusing/ to be neutral’

Greta Thunberg turned 17 at the weekend, and to celebrate, Patti Smith has written the young climate activist a poem.

Posting a photo of Thunberg on her personal Instagram, Smith wrote her poem in the caption: “This is/Greta Thunberg, turning/seventeen today, asking/for no accolade, no gifts,/save we not be neutral./ The Earth knows its kind,/ just as all deities, just as/animals and the healing/spring. Happy birthday/to Greta, who stood today,/as every Friday, refusing/ to be neutral.”

The work refers to Thunberg’s climate strikes and #FridaysForFuture protests that have swept the world since she began striking alone outside the Sweish parliamentary building in August 2018. 

Thunberg spent her 17th birthday protesting once more outside Swedish parliament, holding her ‘Skolstrejk för klimatet’ sign (school strike for the climate). Her Instagram caption reads: “School strike week 72”.

Figures across the creative and music industries have come out to support Thunberg – last year, the 1975 incorporated her World Economic Forum speech into a track “The 1975”. “We must admit that we are losing this battle,” Thunberg speaks over the track, “We have to acknowledge that older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed. But homosapiens have not yet failed.” All proceeds from the song went to Extinction Rebellion.

Though birthdays pass, climate activism has no time to stop: Thunberg has spoken out about the urgent need for political action to combat Australia’s bushfires.  

“Australia is on fire. And the summer there has only just begun,” she wrote on Instagram. “2019 was a year of record heat and record drought. Today the temperature outside Sydney was 48,9°C. 500 million (!!) animals are estimated dead because of the bushfires. Over 20 people have died and thousands of homes have burned to (the) ground.”