Monday, November 2, 2015

Poetry of Nature

Lower Kimball Lake, NH
by Kathleen Tyler Conklin

When we look for poems about nature, we usually expect to find lyrical poetry about the beauty of nature…poems about stunning landscapes or the change of seasons. We desire to bask in words describing nature’s gifts, words that help us to picture the exquisiteness of a field of flowers or of a singular beauteous bloom.

The poets came through for us, starting with the early Greek poets and their pastoral idylls and moving through time with Emerson, Frost, Wordsworth, Yeats, Dickinson, to the present with poets like Snyder, Oliver, Williams and Gluck (to name a few). I love these poems.

After the strongest hurricane ever hit Mexico, I became curious about the poetry written about the destructive side of nature. As inhabitants of the earth, subject to hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes, I knew that nature could be fierce and that there had to be poems about such catastrophes. They just didn’t come to mind as readily.

I did find some, even written by the same poets as listed above, but not as many seemed available as the more romanticized versions of nature. They made for a thrilling, sometimes chilling read.  Basho, a master of haiku, the distillation of nature poems, explored nature’s darker, more challenging side in his work.

Here’s one of his that gives us layers of meaning in this autumn season, also the season of numerous political debates.
                               speaking out
                              my lips are cold
                              in autumn wind