Hi everyone! Did you know that under the umbrella of nature poetry, there is a subcategory called environmental poetry, and an even more restrictive subcategory called ecopoetry?
Ecopoetry is a relatively new term for describing contemporary poetry that has a strong ecological emphasis. Whilst precise definitions vary, ecopoetry is generally recognized by its focus on humanity’s interrelationship with the natural world in such a way that implies responsibility, engagement and a striving for ecological integrity.
An ecopoem needs to be about a non-human natural world, wholly or in part, in some way or the other. Within environmental poetry, ecopoetry explores nature and its relationship with humans with the ecopoets treating nature as “a separate and equal other.”
Ecopoetry is also about the desire for creating change – it is urgent, it aims to unsettle. It has a desire to issue a “warning” of some kind.
Though ecopoetry is meant to encourage “doing,” its language to achieve this is through the re-creation of experience rather than any explicit political activism. It is only by authentically allowing the reader to “dwell” in nature—that ecopoetry can work on consciousness and subsequently affect change in the ways we think, feel about, and live and act in the world. Our role as a poet: help it be felt, help it be imagined.
Why ecopoetry? There’s no Planet B per John Shoptaw. You can read more here.
Rather than get stuck in the definitions, allow me to share some poems with you.
All the green trees bring
their rings to you
circles of their years to you
late and soon casting
down their crowns into
you at once they are gone
not to appear
as themselves again
O season of your own
from whom now even
the fire has moved on
out of the green voices
and the days of summer
out of the spoken
names and the words between them
the mingled nights the hands
the hope the faces
those circling ages dancing
in flames as we see now
here before you
O you with no
beginning that we can conceive of
no end that we can foresee
you of whom once we were made
before we knew ourselves
in this season of our own
By the time W. S. Merwin writes “To Ashes,” the slightly blurred relationship between trees and humans is brought into focus, explicitly revealing a truly ecopoetic view. As the poem progresses, the speaker begins to shift from the trees to humans by slowly incorporating human elements until “out of the spoken / names and the words between them / the mingled nights the hands / the hope the faces” emerges the ultimate realization. Concentrically paralleling the widening trees rings that eventually bring the tree back to ashes and the earth, are “those circling ages dancing” that will inevitably do the same to humans (lines 15–19). In this way, trees and humans are in essence the same—in origin and in end. Not only do they both return to ashes, but they are both from or of ashes in the beginning.
Here are two more poems:
A spiral ascending the morning,
climbing by means of a song into the sun,
to be sung reciprocally by two birds at intervals
in the same tree but not quite in time.
A song that assembles the earth
out of nine notes and silence.
out of the unformed gloom before dawn
where every tree is a problem to be solved by birdsong.
Crex Crex Corcorovado,
letting their pieces fall where they may,
every dawn divides into the distinct
misgiving between alternate voices
sung repeatedly by two birds at intervals
out of nine notes and silence.
while the sun, with its fingers to the earth,
as the sun proceeds so it gathers instruments:
it gathers the yard with its echoes and scaffolding sounds,
it gathers the swerving away sound of the road,
it gathers the rever shivering in a wet field,
it gathers the three small bones in the dark of the eardrum;
it gathers the big bass silence of clouds
and the mind whispering in its shell
and all trees, with their ears to the air,
seeking a steady state and singing it over till it settles.
Oh, Earth, Wait For Me
By Pablo Neruda
Return me, oh sun,
to my wild destiny,
rain of the ancient wood
bring me back the aroma and the swords
that fall from the sky,
the solitary peace of pasture and rock,
the damp at the river-margins,
the smell of the larch tree,
the wind alive like a heart
beating in the crowded restlessness
of the towering araucaria.
Earth, give me back your pure gifts,
the towers of silence which rose
from the solemnity of their roots.
I want to go back to being what I have not been,
and learn to go back from such deeps
that amongst all natural things
I could live or not live; it does not matter
to be one stone more, the dark stone,
the pure stone which the river bears away.
One organization that I discover which celebrate ecopoetry is here. You might want to check back later in the year for their Poetry Competition.
Our challenge is to write an ecopoetry by exploring and dwelling in our relationship with nature in such a way that implies responsibility and engagement. Please note this is not political rant against environmental or political issues. You are welcome to write and link up more than 1 poem, but please visit as many poems as possible.
And if you are new to the pub, here’s how it works:
• Write your poem
• Post it on your blog or website
• Click on Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post and enter your name and the direct URL of your post
• Read and COMMENT on other poet’s work, we all come here to have our poems read and a reciprocated comment is expected.
• Spread the word on social media with the #dVersePoets hashtag
• Have fun!
See you on the poetry trail ~