The continued existence of wildlife and wilderness
is important to the quality of life of humans.
Throughout the day, I checked on the babies from a distance and saw the mama moving from one neighbor’s yard to another. She finally came back for the larger of the two babies (moving it to my neighbor’s back yard and lying on the grass while the baby “danced” around her). A couple of hours later, she came back for the smaller fawn. What an amazing gift to see those precious babies and how their mom cared for them. I live in a small, suburban town (1.342 mi²), where houses are close. It saddens me more than I can say to see how these beautiful and dignified creatures’ habitat has been so taken over by people that they are reduced to having their young on front lawns.
This experience, of course, led me to read about nature and, specifically about wildlife. Among the poems and articles, I read that there are times when we see animals as furred and four-legged metaphors for ourselves. Many poets have written powerfully and touchingly about wildlife. I thought that this week we might try writing related poems of our own.
1. Think about the natural world and its creatures. What feelings or memories do your thoughts bring forward?
2. How do you feel about wildlife? Does the idea of animals in peril and vanishing species trouble you or hurt your spirit?
3. Try writing a poem about nature, a particular species of animal, an endangered species, or wildlife with which you've had a personal experience.
4. Write a poem in which you use personification and write from a wild animal's point of view.
5. Write a poem in which you tell how the natural world and its creatures touch, enhance, or expand your own sense of being.
6. Write a poem about a species of wildlife that you'd like to be.
7. Write a poem about the quote by Jim Fowler above or the Albert Einstein quote below.
1. Write from your heart, but don’t get carried away by sentimentality.
2. Make your poem accessible and engaging.
3. Use fresh language, concreteness, and establish a strong emotional core.
4. Don’t rely on abstractions
5. Avoid clichés.
6. Show without telling.
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver
The Animals by Edwin Muir
They do not live in the world,
Are not in time and space.
From birth to death hurled
No word do they have, not one
To plant a foot upon,
Were never in any place.
For with names the world was called
Out of the empty air,
With names was built and walled,
Line and circle and square,
Dust and emerald;
Snatched from deceiving death
By the articulate breath.
But these have never trod
Twice the familiar track,
Never never turned back
Into the memoried day.
All is new and near
In the unchanging Here
Of the fifth great day of God,
That shall remain the same,
Never shall pass away.
Our task must be to free ourselves …
by widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures
and the whole of nature and its beauty.