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
Thoreau is most known for his book Walden and essay Civil Disobedience. However, early in his career he was a poet. In this poem, Thoreau proclaims his reverence for the natural world.
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.
Thank you for the poetry! I’m loving it!
Thank you! I am glad that you are enjoying the posts!
A wonderful post! As we are now in the season of autumn (according to the old Celtic calendar autumn began on 1st August) I am constantly looking for all things natural that make up this period. Here is one of my hokku:
Hi Ashley, This is great. The wind and the bees. A perfect combination for early autumn.
Then there are the nature mystics like Wadsworth and Keats.
. . . and the Brontes. 🙂
I don’t know Brontes. Sounds like there is research to do!
The Brontes were a literary family living in Yorkshire, England during the 19th Century. Emily wrote’ Wuthering Heights’, Charlotte wrote ‘Jane Eyre’ and Anne wrote ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’. Their brother, Branwell, and their father, Patrick, were also writers and they all wrote poetry too. Having been brought up on the wilds of the Yorkshire moors, they were all very close to nature and it was obvious in their writings. Their lives were traumatic and all died of consumption at an early age, except for their father, Patrick, who died at the age of 84. Hope this kicks off your research, Mark. 😀
Hi Lesley, thanks for this information! I know Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. Although, I can’t remember a thing about them. It may be time to revisit the classics.
I knew you would know them. For many of us, it goes back to school days. 😀
Yes! I will add them to the list! I think I have some of their poetry on the bookshelf.
lovely poetry, thanks
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.
I love your Thoreau quotes. He was definitely one of a kind and embedded with nature!
Yes, definitely. I have struggled sometimes trying to read Walden. But appreciate Thoreau’s observations and commentary on society.
Yes. I learned of him in my sophomore American Lit class in High School.
Enjoy your posts Mark. I once lived in Johnson, VT, back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth 😊. Vermont is another special corner of His creation that still owns a piece of my heart. Be blessed
Johnson is a great little town! It is going through a little bit of a revitalization right now. The green in town now has a couple of semi-permanent food trucks and a coffee truck. It is nice to see the community coming together. Thanks for the comment and visiting!
I am native to Montana, and I am a photography enthusiast. What is Montana known for? It’s mountains and its big, blue skies! I think photography celebrates nature in a visual way, and when paired with the depth and sensory detail poetry can provide, both art forms come together to form a full story – a full celebration. 🙂
Hi Tressa, Poetry and photography definitely go hand in hand. Are you familiar with haiga? That is a haiku paired with a picture. This combination can be pretty amazing. Thanks for the comment.
Haiga? Sounds like the perfect art form in many ways! Do you have any favorites to recommend?
Hi Tressa, no favorites yet. However, the haiku foundation has a nice haiga gallery that I find enjoyable. If you have a moment check that out.
Thank you some beautiful verse – One poem that resonates with me is ‘The Way through the Woods’ by Rudyard Kipling – a secret world unrestrained by man, you can read it here:
Thank you for the recommendation! I always like to find new poems.