Celebrating Nature with Poetry

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. 

Rain Drops
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“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.

River and sky
Stream and Woods

“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.

Evening Primrose
Evening Primrose

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.


Resources

  1. Haiku Enlightenment
  2. Poets.org: “Nature” by Thoreau
  3. Project Gutenberg: Walden and Civil Disobedience
  4. Poets.org: “A Spring Morning” by Clare

24 thoughts on “Celebrating Nature with Poetry

Add yours

  1. 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:
    Bees hum,
    Wind chimes;
    Autumn days.

      1. 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. 😀

      2. 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.

  2. 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

    1. 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!

  3. 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. 🙂

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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