Nature is something that has inspired poets of all generations. The environment is a constant source of inspiration that has changed and challenged some of the greatest thinkers and writers of all time. Transcendentalists escaped to nature's beauty to find refuge. Ancient philosophers from Homer to Confucious sought answers to life's toughest questions by investing time in listening to the environment's ageless wisdom. It's a wonderful reality that any writer can tap into.
Nature and the environment are great inspirations for any poet who wants to connect to the everyday landscape. It's good to know your surroundings and work to express it in your own words. Mother Nature and all her glory are great topics for poetry. If you want to practice writing about what surrounds you, check out these 7 famous poems about nature and the environment.
Top 7 Famous Poems About Nature and the Environment
- "A Bird came down the Walk (359)" / Emily Dickinson. In this poem, we see Emily Dickinson exhibit her extraordinary attention to detail and powerful articulation of observation. Alone in her home in Amherst. Massachusetts, she demonstrates how one does not need to travel the world extensively to write about the unique beauty in the everyday. She notes her encounter with a bird doesn't notice it's being watched. It conducts itself in a friendly fashion as it interacts with the animals around it. The simple experience of watching a bird proves Dickinson's wonderful ability to create imagery and illustration through words. Pay attention to the the world she helps us, the audience, see through her words. The bird ate and angleworm, then "drank a Dew / from a convenient Grass—," before it stepped aside to let a beetle pass by. The bird's "velvet" head had "worried eyes" that rested on "unrolled feathers." The imagery in the final stanza, noting the butterflies flying in a smooth motion "Off Banks of Noon" gives us a clear picture into the world that encapsulated this great poet.
- "The Road Not Taken" / Robert Frost. This poem is one of Frost's most notable poems and the source that motivates people to continuously challenge themselves. Frost writes of the difficulty and the ultimate reward of taking a more challenging route in the woods after encountering a divergence in the road. In writing about the forest, he takes liberty in finding ways to describe the world as he sees it. The "yellow wood" could be indicative of a season, such as the leaves changing from their bright, spring greens to fall yellows, brows, and oranges. Or the color can add to the message the author wants to convey: the woods changing mirrors the internal conflict the author faces as he decides which path he takes. In choosing the more difficult journey, he sheds his old form and takes on a new meaning to life. Other things considered, the "grassier" road did appear to be "worn the same" as the road less travelled, and "that morning equally lay" made the common route seem more appealing. But in retrospect, the author said taking the tougher journey through those woods "has made all the difference." Mother nature gives us many lessons through our surroundings. Frost utilized the woods as the perfect metaphor for conflict. Try to find ways to represent ideas through nature in your own writing to tie nature and the environment into your writing.
- "The Way Through the Woods" / Rudyard Kipling. Forests are on virtually every continent on the Earth. They are very common to see, and are familiar to many poets. In "The Way Through the Woods," Rudyard Kipling speaks of the beauty of a dense collection of trees with animals that roam "at ease." They need no assistance from man, as it seems as though they innately know where an old road used to be. It is unidentifiable today, but Kipling draws attention to the the wonderful connection the animals have to their environment, saying its "As though they perfectly knew / The old lost road through the woods / But there is no road through the woods." One way to write about your environment is to write on how the animals that surround you interact with the world. If something has changed in your landscape, note how that has affected your world, and write about it to better process how you can interact with the changes in your world, too.
- "Sail Away" / Rabindranath Tagore. Vast. Powerful. Mighty. Endless. These are all words that frequently describe the ocean that covers 71 percent of the world. But in this poem, the ocean is described with different adjectives, ones that personify it to be a gentle friend with a friendly smile and listening ears. Tagore tells of his love for the ocean with admiration for it. Simply a man and his boat and the stories he wishes to share with the water. Tagore's escape from life is in his modest sailboat sailing out in the early morning to the sea as he prepares to vanish into the night. Use the water as a chance to escape. Water has many baptismal effects in literature. It's used to cleanse people, to signify the start of something new or to help people get away. Use the ocean in your own writing to start something new, or to travel the world as Tagore does in his timeless poem.
- "Night on the Mountain" / by George Sterling. It's common for poets to marvel at the majesty of mountains. They stand tall with snowy ice-capped peaks or show earthy tones with tall pines scattered along the sides in warmer climates. Regardless, mountains carry immense power and their sight is one to behold. In this poem, George Sterling captures Mother Nature's danger as he writes of a perilous snow storm. Again, we see the author's environment illustrated in the opening lines, "The fog has risen from the sea and crowned / The dark, untrodden summits of the coast, / Where roams a voice, in canyons uttermost, From midnight waters vibrant and profound." Try different ways to capture beautiful mountains that may be by your home or elsewhere around the world. Write about what makes them stand out to you or what their pronounced features against their surroundings says to you.
- "My Heart Leaps Up" / William Wordsworth. This short poem by William Wordsworth is perhaps one of his most famous. It represents a beautiful relationship between a love for the natural world and for the individual. It contains his well-known line, "The child is the father of the Man." Wordsworth makes these observations and more, beginning with the profound joy his heart has upon observing a rainbow in the sky. Such a simple act of nature gives the author awesome joy that spurs him into a romantic analysis of his affinity for the world in which he lives. The days of the author began with the rainbow, the rest will be bound to its "natural piety." When searching for inspiration, look up to the sky. You'll never know what you may see!
- "Peace" / Bessie Rayner Parkes. There is a subtle peace that comes upon observing nature. There's grandeur to observe around every corner in the world. 19th century English poet Bessie Rayner Parkes captures the peace that comes from enveloping oneself in nature. From "the snow that falls so soft and light," to "the waves that ripple to the shore," the peace that comes from being in the arms of Mother Nature is serene and calming. She notes that in this poem and reminds all of us to see the beauty in the everyday, just as the other poets here have done. Parkes shows us that "All natural things both live and move / In natural peace that is their own." Think about how you move in the world and what gives you peace. When you think about nature and the environment, reflect on your place in the world and how to connect with it. Understanding nature and the environment will continue to be an inspiration for the writers of tomorrow, so never forget to use it for inspiration and guidance to express yourself!