What poems bring you closer to nature? Here are six of my favourites.
Poetry is a literary form that—in my opinion—can make any topic seem magical. Poems possess a unique ability to express complex emotions and experiences through meaningful language. It is a powerful medium that allows one to praise the loveliness of a flower while letting out melancholic thoughts in one stanza.
In many popular and not-so-popular poems, nature is a timeless appeal to poets. Nature becomes a canvas for expressing emotions, reflecting the cyclical patterns of life and offering a refuge for soul-searching. Embark on a poetic journey with me through the enchanting landscapes of six nature-themed poems in which verses bloom like wildflowers.Unsplash
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
This is a poem I came across in high school English and absolutely fell in love with. It is a contemplative poem about the choices in life in which the narrator literally encounters a fork in the road and is faced with a decision between two separate paths. This poem delves into the impact that our choices have on our journey—quite touching to me when I encountered it just before graduating high school. The final lines, "I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference," leave room for interpretation, inviting readers to reflect on the consequences of their own choices and the unique paths they choose to follow.Unsplash
Along with the life lessons, this poet takes us on a literal walk down a trail, using the diverging roads as a metaphor for significant life choices. The season of autumn is featured in this poem, symbolizing a stage of maturity and reflection. Frost uses the woods to represent the complexities of life, suggesting that although they are both equally worn and covered with leaves, we must make choices in life without certainty about the outcomes.
“Tulips” by Sylvia Plath
A heavy poem about recuperation and identity, Sylvia Plath wrote this poem when she was hospitalized and in recovery. The speaker of the poem is in a hospital room, torn between the desire to stay in the hospital bed, peaceful and numb, and the need to return to normal life. Subtly representing the struggle between living and dying, Plath uses emotional imagery to discuss the complex human psyche.Unsplash
The bouquet of get-well tulips in this poem is the natural element that represents the vividness and intensity of life. The tulips strike the speaker as an unwelcome gift, waking her up from a blissful existence. The lines, “And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself. / The vivid tulips eat my oxygen,” represent her reluctance to enter normal life even though she eventually accepts recovery. The vibrant, “loud” tulips suggest that life may be painful, but the will to live is stronger.
“Sonnet 18” by William Shakespeare
This is one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, also known as “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” It is a celebration of the speaker's beloved, exploring the immortality of a poem that, in turn, keeps its muse immortal. The speaker seems to reject the short period of the summer season and suggests that his lover’s beauty surpasses the fleeting nature of the season—that it is ever-lasting. Shakespeare skillfully uses the timelessness of poetry to preserve the beloved’s beauty within it, making it an eternal monument. The last lines are my favourite: “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” Ah… What a love poem. Unsplash
This sonnet is admired for its descriptive metaphors of nature. The sonnet unfolds with a contrast between the unpredictable and sometimes harsh qualities of summer days—subject to “rough winds”, “too hot” weather, and its inevitable “decline” into autumn—versus the unchanging beauty of the beloved. The use of nature in "Sonnet 18" highlights the eternal qualities of the speaker's love and emphasizes the enduring power of a poet's words.
“The Tyger” by William Blake
This poem ponders questions of existence, God and creation. Blake explores the creation of the tiger, a powerful and fearsome creature, through a series of rhetorical questions. He questions why innocent creatures—like lambs—co-exist with “fearful” tigers. He questions why good and evil are made to co-exist. He marvels at the tiger, a symbol of duality with awe-inspiring beauty and potential danger.Unsplash
The poem features vivid imagery related to the natural world, describing the tiger's fiery eyes, burning bright in the “forests of the night." The outdoor setting and the imagery of the tiger in its natural habitat contribute to the overall impact of the poem and convey the awe the speaker feels when contemplating the creation of the universe.
“Time does not bring relief; you all have lied” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem explores the theme of enduring emotional pain after the end of a relationship. The poem emphasizes the unchanging nature of the heart, which still beats with the memory of love even though the loved one is absent. The speaker suggests that time has not dulled the ache of the heartbreak. She expresses a desire for the forgetfulness that death might bring.Unsplash
Nature is invoked throughout the poem to highlight the speaker’s pain. The changing seasons, represented by "the dead leaves" and "icy fathoms," serve as metaphors for the passage of time, yet they do not bring relief. My favourite lines are, “I miss him in the weeping of the rain; / I want him at the shrinking of the tide.”
“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth
A well-known poem, this describes the poet's experience of coming across a field of golden daffodils while wandering in nature. The sight of the flowers lifts the poet's spirits and leaves a lasting impression, becoming a source of solace and inspiration. The poet emphasizes that nature is a part of us, and loneliness and solitude are no match for the embrace of nature.Unsplash
Wordsworth skillfully describes the daffodils, their “sparkling waves” and “sprightly dance.” The poem celebrates the beauty of nature and the ability of a simple, serene scene to bring joy and comfort to the human soul.