Tales from the forest

Inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests

5 great nature poems for National Poetry Day

We have a rich heritage of capturing the landscape in verse. From antiquity to the present, it’s been the sparking flint to a poet’s imagination. It fuels the pens that capture our fascination and communion with natural world. Whether you're stuck inside, or want inspiration for your next trip, cinematic nature poetry can bring the outside to you.

Read on to discover our favourite stanzas and try writing your own nature-inspired haiku.

1. Elizabeth Bishop – The Moose

elizabeth poem

"the sweet peas cling
to their wet white string
on the whitewashed fences;
bumblebees creep
inside the foxgloves,
and evening commences."

Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet, Pulitzer Prize winner and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

2. Lia Purpura – First Leaf

lia poem

"That yellow
was a falling off,
a fall
for once I saw
coming—"

Lia Purpura is an American poet, author of four volumes of poetry and is the University of Maryland's Writer-in-Residence.

3. Alice Oswald – Fox

alice poem

"a fox in her fox-fur
stepping across
the grass in her black gloves
barked at my house"

Alice Oswald is a British poet, winner of the T.S. Elliot Prize and BBC Radio 4's Poet-in-Residence.

4. Seamus Heaney – Blackberry Picking

seamus poem

"For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot."

Seamus Heaney was an Irish poet and playwright, a Harvard professor, winner of many notable awards including the T.S Elliot Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature.

5. Liz Lochhead – Favourite Place

liz poem

"And tonight the sky would be huge with stars.
Tomorrow there would be the distant islands
cut out of sugar paper, or else cloud, the rain
in great veils"

Liz Lochead is a Scottish poet, playwright and was Scotland's Makar from 2011-16.

Try your own nature haiku

Not everyone can stretch to a sonnet or villanelle – but anyone can try a haiku. These micro-poems are only three lines long, so anyone can have a go – even children.

Haiku’s originated in thirteenth century Japan. They have a 5 syllable / 7 syllable / 5 syllable structure, and are traditionally about nature.

 

An old pond!
A frog jumps in—
the sound of water.

– Matsuo Bosho

 

How to haiku:

  1. Look at something outdoor that inspires you – big as an oak or teeny as a bee – and try to capture your feelings in just a few words. Write the first two lines

  2. Write about something different and surprising in the third line.

  3. Rewrite the poem using the 5 – 7 – 5 style

 

Winter seclusion -
Listening, that evening,
To the rain in the mountain.

– Kobayashi Issa

There's nothing quite like losing yourself in a poem about nature. Whether reading or writing one, it's sure to make you want to wrap up, head out and experience the magic in person.

What's your favourite nature poem? Have you written your own haiku? We’d love you to share it with us in the comments below.




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