Friday, March 22, 2013

POETRY FRIDAY: Nature as Inspiration

Many people are inspired to write poetry after a walk in the woods, a stroll along the beach, a hike in the mountains, or other experiences in the great outdoors. Robert Frost’s (1874-1963) The Road Not Taken and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening are two of the many nature-inspired poems he composed. The Road Not Taken can be found on my Poetry Page, but here is Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.


The reader is drawn in by these images of a snowy forest, and can almost feel the damp chill in the air. (Robert Frost's birthday is, incidentally, this Tuesday, March 26, which is why I chose to highlight his work.)

Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, William Wordsworth, John Keats, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are just a few of the many writers who frequently wove images of nature into their poetry. For a fairly comprehensive list of poems by these poets, visit www.poets.org and search by name—you will be glad you did!

Haiku poetry (which I explored in depth in this post several weeks ago) is a poetic form that developed specifically as an expression of nature. Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was an early master of haiku, and brought natural images into sharp focus through his writing. Here is just one example:

But for a woodpecker
pecking at a post, no sound
at all in the house

(Due to the translation from Japanese, the syllables here do not exactly follow the 5/7/5 format, but you get the idea.)

Several weeks ago, I took a hike in the woods with my husband and boys, the day after a rare Carolina snowfall. I was struck by the way the sun reflected off the snow-laden tree branches, and we all stood still when a sudden wind brought snowflakes drifting down again, a million tiny diamonds sparkling in the sunshine. When I got home, I wrote my own haiku to capture the moment, called Second Snowfall:

Snow shimmers on trees
then gusty winds send diamonds
drifting through the air

Now that spring has officially arrived, I look forward to even more “nature moments” to preserve in words. Poetry provides a vehicle by which we can harness our experiences and shape them into meaningful creations, and nature provides an unceasing well of inspiration—all we have to do is take a walk and open our eyes!

Both photos are from the woods behind our house,
always a source of inspiration for me!

 

3 comments:

  1. I live near redwoods, and I find the forest they make to be unlike any of the others, speaking of "dark & deep..."

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    Replies
    1. Your redwoods sound beautiful, Mirka. I hope your spring walks bring you inspiration!

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  2. Your woods are beautiful, Becky, as is your poem. Nature is such an amazing inspiration. Mirka, my husband and I visited the ancient redwoods last weekend, and I agree there was amazing aura in those woods! ~Diane

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