Nature is one of poetry’s oldest subjects. It is ever present and beautiful. It can serve as a metaphor for a multitude of events or feelings. The environment a poet lives in can define their poetry in its everpresence.
Tools & Techniques for Poems About Nature
The greatest writers of all time have turned to nature for inspiration and refuge alike. What is it about the way waves crash or softly caress a shore? What does it feel like when the moon seems brighter than the sun? What does it mean when a rose grows from concrete?
Besides the metaphors in nature, contemporary artists have also used great imagery and written about pollution, climate change, and industrialization. Whether you live surrounded by nature or in a big city that’s a jumbled mess of noisy streets and almost absent of any trees, your environment is full of inspiration.
7 Poems About Nature
Each poem uses this theme in a unique way whether nature is a metaphor or the subject of an increasingly polluted world.
1. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
This is one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems, which constantly serves as an inspiration to people everywhere. He writes of his journey down a road and the time he had to decide his direction upon meeting a fork in the road. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—/I took the one less traveled by/And that has made all the difference,” he writes. This is poem is often used as inspiration to do the more daring thing or to make the more unconventional choice because it celebrates what happens when you take “The Road Not Taken.”
2. “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” by Tupac Shakur
The hip hop legend Tupac Shakur wrote about overcoming in this poem that praises the rose that grew from concrete. People don’t expect much to grow from concrete except for grass and weeds. In this poem, Tupac takes that idea and explores what it means for the rose that grows, the natural laws it breaks, and how people react. “Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared,” he penned.
3. “The Tree Agreement” by Elise Paschen
This poem is a great example of deep beauty and meaning in life’s simple moments, like arguing with a neighbor about hacking down a tree or not. In “The Tree Agreement,” Elise Paschen describes this conflict, the value she sees in the tree, and her desire to keep it. By using violent language to describe removing the tree and using bleak descriptions to describe her neighbor, she shows an appreciation for the tree, a beautiful element of nature shooting up in the middle of a city.
4. “The Sun” by Dan Chiasson
This poem delights in the absolute power of the sun, comparing it to a god. Dan Chiasson writes that the sun connects us all. The sun is in charge of darkness as it is “in charge of the imagination.” The sun makes stars disappear but makes star-like reflections everywhere.
5. “Water” by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Similarly to the previous poem, this poem explores the absolute power of water and its ability to create as well as destroy. “Water,” however, is an example of the poetic art of not having a single extra word. In 51 words, Ralph Waldo Emerson writes how well water can “doubleth joy” or just as swiftly “elegantly destroy.”
6. “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou
Don’t forget about animals and their power and symbolism in poetry! In this infamous poem, Maya Angelou writes about a bird that is free and one that is caged as a metaphor for the confines of racism. Angelou writes about the bird with full wings that flies, floats, and “dares to claim the sky.” She also writes about the caged bird with clipped wings and tied feet standing “on the grave of dreams.” Even though this bird doesn’t have wings—a classic symbol of freedom—she knows what it does instead of flying.
7. “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Sara Teasdale
Written amid the 1918 flu pandemic and World War I, Sara Teasdale turns to nature for hope. “There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground/And swallows circling with their shimmering sound,” she writes. Despite the death and despair plaguing life in that era, Teasdale turns to the inevitability of nature’s beauty for hope in a peaceful, healthy world.
Recapping Poems About Nature
Based on these poems, think about how you would approach your own poem about nature. Remember these poems are broad. They can be about any environment, from a forest to a backyard. They can be about vibrancy as much as the mundane. Here are some questions to get you thinking.
- Would you describe the nature which fascinates you, or would you find a metaphor in an animal or element?
- Would you want your readers to finish your poem with a feeling of admiration, hope, or worry?
- When does your environment inspire you, scare you, or feel boring to you?