What Is Nature Poetry?

Dan Cavallari

Nature poetry is a form of writing that focuses primarily on themes, ideas, emotions, situations, or images that have to do with nature or the wilderness. Poetry is a type of writing that is written in meter and sometimes with rhyme; meter is essentially a pattern by which the individual lines of poetry are written with stressed and unstressed syllables, or with a certain amount of syllables. Some types of nature poetry do not have meter or rhyme, but have other characteristics such as figurative language and unique forms or patterns that make them distinctly poetic.

Nature poetry may be read differently than other types of poetry.
Nature poetry may be read differently than other types of poetry.

A common type of nature poetry is the haiku. This type of poem is very short, and it usually focuses on some sort of natural element, such as animals, plants, the seasons, and so on. The first line of the haiku is five syllables long; the second line is seven syllables long; and the third line of the haiku is five syllables long, meaning the entire poem consists of 17 syllables total; in Japanese, the term "on" describes the sounds in the lines, which are different than syllables, though in English, syllables are used to complete the poem. The poem usually features some sort of juxtaposition--or comparison of vastly different concepts.

Poets may write about nature while visiting parks, forests and nature reserves.
Poets may write about nature while visiting parks, forests and nature reserves.

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Other poem structures can be used to write nature poetry, as long as the themes expressed in the poem are related in some way to the natural world. The poem may also focus on the human being in relation to nature, rather than simply on nature itself. Poets often choose to use figurative language to express thoughts and ideas in the poem; these figurative devices may include similes and metaphors, which are comparisons, or personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and so on.

Nature poetry is often inspired by scenic locations.
Nature poetry is often inspired by scenic locations.

Poets may also choose to write nature poetry with a specific meter and rhyme scheme. One of the most common types of meter is iambic pentameter, which is a line of poetry containing five iambs. An iamb is a combination of an unstressed syllable and a stressed syllable. A line of nature poetry adhering to iambic pentameter may read something like this:

Nature poetry might focus on the relationship between people and nature.
Nature poetry might focus on the relationship between people and nature.

"The leaves must fall in paths not planned or built."

An iamb in this line would be, for example, "must fall," since must is unstressed, and fall is stressed. Five iambs are present in the line, making the line written in iambic pentameter. Rhyme schemes may be plotted as well; if, for example, the next line read, "They curve, they bend, they sail, they lunge, they tilt," the rhyme scheme would be denoted as an AA rhyme scheme, since the last words in each line rhyme with each other. AB AB rhyme schemes will have words that rhyme in every other line.

Nature poetry tries to capture the writer's emotions while experiencing the outdoors.
Nature poetry tries to capture the writer's emotions while experiencing the outdoors.

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