Poetry can be the perfect way to celebrate our connection to the natural world. A well-crafted poem will tell the reader a story, convey the poet’s feelings, and share the impact of that moment. Poems about nature often tap into the essence of a moment, express the notion of biophilia, and will propel the reader beyond the written word.
Take this haiku from Robert Bebek(1)
a summer storm each and every raindrop bearing its own sound
In reflecting on this haiku, Rosenstock states that “In haiku–one breath poetry– we can disappear into a bhuddhafield.”(1) This haiku captures a moment in time, and there is so much more under the surface. How much admiration for the natural world does one have to have to notice that each raindrop brings its own sound?
Translating the love of nature into words is not just the work of a haikuist. Other poets like Thoreau and Clare have expressed similar admiration with longer form poetry.
“Nature” by Thoreau
O Nature! I do not aspire To be the highest in thy quire,— To be a meteor in the sky, Or comet that may range on high; Only a zephyr that may blow Among the reeds by the river low; Give me thy most privy place Where to run my airy race.
He also defers to nature as the ultimate teacher and a place of refuge.
For I’d rather be thy child And pupil, in the forest wild, Than be the king of men elsewhere, And most sovereign slave of care: To have one moment of thy dawn, Than share the city’s year forlorn.
In “Nature” you can hear themes that will continue to arise in his other writings. For example, in Walden, Thoreau states:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”(3)
Here you can again see this idea that nature, and the natural world, are the ultimate teachers. Throughout Walden, Thoreau observes and analyzes the natural world around him. He writes chapters about the sounds, the pond, and the animal life that is surrounds him. Thoreau understands the natural world is of vital importance to human experience and he isn’t afraid to share his ideas with the reader.
“A Spring Morning” by John Clare
In “A Spring Morning”, Clare takes a celebratory stance to his interaction with nature.
The Spring comes in with all her hues and smells, In freshness breathing over hills and dells; O’er woods where May her gorgeous drapery flings, And meads washed fragrant by their laughing springs.
He speaks of the joy found in bird song.
The happy time of singing birds is come, And Love’s lone pilgrimage now finds a home; Among the mossy oaks now coos the dove, And the hoarse crow finds softer notes for love.
He concludes with a statement that leaves no question about his feelings about this moment.
And every sound that meets the ear is Love.
In this brief poem, Clare explicitly shares his love of all living things. He doesn’t try to hide this love, in fact he comes right out and says it.
Clare is known for his nature poems. Other poems such as Evening Primrose also demonstrate Clare’s love of nature.
Bebek, Thoreau, and Clare all use poetry as a way to celebrate nature and express their love of the natural world. Using the poetic form, these writers are able to convey their love of all living things in a way that captures the reader’s imagination.
While Thoreau proposed that nature is the teacher, I would like to propose that poets are also teachers. A poet’s ability to distill an experience down to its essence has the potential to shift our perspective on something. A poet’s love of nature can help us see and love nature. A poem can change how we understand the world.
Do you have any poems that made you notice the world differently? Please share below.