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Poetry - Nature and the Environment


William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Daffodils (1804)Poetry - Nature and the Environment


Nature inspired Wordsworth’s (pictured right) poems and this is the most famous:


I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

(first verse)


William Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey (1793) 


This poem compares:

  • the wonders of nature and
  • the woes of man (“the still sad music of humanity”, fourth line below).


For I have learned

To look on nature, not as in the hour

Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes

The still, sad music of humanity,

Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power

To chasten and subdue. And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man.

(lines 88-99)


William Wordsworth, The Tables Turned (1798)

This comments on the

  • beauty of nature.
  • danger of destroying it.


Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;

Our meddling intellect

Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:-

We murder to dissect.

(penultimate verse)



John Keats (1795-1821), To Autumn (1819) Poetry - Nature and the Environment

The English poet’s (pictured right) opening lines describe the beauty of autumn:


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun.



Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), NaturePoetry - Nature and the Environment

 The American poet and philosopher (pictured right) prefers the country to the city:


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

(lines 14-18)



John Clare (1793-1864), I Am (1865)Poetry - Nature and the Environment 

The English poet (pictured right) describes the spiritual peace that nature gives:


I long for scenes where man has never trod;

A place where woman never smil'd or wept;

There to abide with my creator, God,

And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:

Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;

The grass below--above the vaulted sky.

(last verse)


William Blake (1757-1827), The Tyger Poetry - Nature and the Environment

The English poet (pictured right) describes the beauty of a tiger:


Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

(first verse).


William Blake, Auguries of Innocence (1803) 

In another poem Blake brilliantly captures nature's

  • beauty.
  • wonder.
  • eternal truth.


To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.

(first four lines).



Ogden Nash (1902-71), Song of the Open Road (1932) Poetry - Nature and the Environment

The American poet (pictured right) comments on how business can obscure the beauty of nature:


I think that I shall never see

A billboard lovely as a tree.

Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,

I'll never see a tree at all.

(complete poem)



William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Sonnet 18Poetry - Nature and the Environment


Shakespeare (pictured right) comments on the weather’s unpredictability:


Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date.

(lines 3 and 4)



Robert Browning (1812-89), Home Thoughts, from Abroad (1845)Poetry - Nature and the Environment 

The English poet (pictured right) describes the joys of the English countryside including (in the penultimate line), the buttercup, described as the children's dower (or gift of nature):


Oh, to be in England

Now that April 's there,

And whoever wakes in England

Sees, some morning, unaware,

That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf

Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,

While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough

In England—now!


And after April, when May follows,

And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!

Hark, where my blossom'd pear-tree in the hedge

Leans to the field and scatters on the clover

Blossoms and dewdrops -at the bent spray's edge-

That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,

Lest you should think he never could recapture

The first fine careless rapture!

And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,

All will be gay when noontide wakes anew

The buttercups, the little children's dower

- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

 (complete poem)



Christopher Marlowe (1564-93), Passionate Shepherd to His Love (1599)Poetry - Nature and the Environment

The English poet (pictured right) shows how nature can fire the passion of love:

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove

That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,

Woods or steepy mountain yields.


And we will sit upon the rocks,

Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,

By shallow rivers to whose falls

Melodious birds sing madrigals.

(first two verses)



Benjamin Zephaniah (1958- ), Health Care (1997)Poetry - Nature and the Environment 

The English poet (pictured right) in his rap style tells us to look after the planet:


Those dat sail

Tek care of de whales,

De strong should seek

To strengthen the weak,

Lovers of art

Should play their part,

An all those upon it

Tek care of the planet.

(last verse)


Edward Thomas (1878-1917), Adlestrop (1917)Poetry - Nature and the Environment

The Anglo-Welsh poet (pictured right) tells us the beauty and peace of an English village on a train journey during the First World War (in which Thomas was killed):

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—

The name, because one afternoon

Of heat the express-train drew up there

Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.

No one left and no one came

On the bare platform. What I saw

Was Adlestrop—only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,

And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,

No whit less still and lonely fair

Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang

Close by, and round him, mistier,

Farther and farther, all the birds

Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

(complete poem)


Anne Brontë, Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day (1846)Poetry - Nature and the Environment

The English poet (pictured right) describes nature's beautiful fascination 

 My soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring

And carried aloft on the wings of the breeze;

For above and around me the wild wind is roaring,

Arousing to rapture the earth and the seas.

The long withered grass in the sunshine is glancing,

The bare trees are tossing their branches on high;

The dead leaves beneath them are merrily dancing,

The white clouds are scudding across the blue sky.

I wish I could see how the ocean is lashing

The foam of its billows to whirlwinds of spray;

I wish I could see how its proud waves are dashing,

And hear the wild roar of their thunder today!

(complete poem)

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