Poems for Earth Day: Words to Appreciate the Wonders of Nature

"Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them, listen to them. They are alive poems."

Eva Hagan - Author
By

Apr. 15 2024, Published 1:43 p.m. ET

An open poetry book sits on a tree stump in the forest with a few flower petals on top.
Source: iStock

Poetry can be one of the more difficult forms of writing to take in, but when you find a poem you can understand and appreciate, it can unlock a world of beauty and emotion. On a day like Earth Day, while there is a lot of celebration of Earth's wonder and beauty, there also can be a space to recognize the profound loss of the natural world we are experiencing through climate change.

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Poetry has the capacity to communicate this deep but universal loss in a creative and lyrical way. So, whether you are thinking of putting pen to paper but need some inspiration first, or are just looking for some reading, here are poems about Earth for Earth day.

An overhead view of a river in between a forest.
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"'Nature' Is What We See" by Emily Dickinson

"'Nature' is what we see—

The Hill—the Afternoon—

Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—

Nay—Nature is Heaven—

Nature is what we hear—

The Bobolink—the Sea—

Thunder—the Cricket—

Nay—Nature is Harmony—

Nature is what we know—

Yet have no art to say—

So impotent Our Wisdom is

To her Simplicity."

- Emily Dickinson, per All Poetry.

A photo of stones covered in moss in a moving river.
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"Earth Day" by Jane Yolen

"I am the Earth

And the Earth is me.

Each blade of grass,

Each honey tree,

Each bit of mud,

And stick and stone

Is blood and muscle,

Skin and bone.

And just as I

Need every bit

Of me to make

My body fit,

So Earth needs

Grass and stone and tree

And things that grow here

Naturally.

That’s why we

Celebrate this day.

That’s why across

The world we say:

As long as life,

As dear, as free,

I am the Earth

And the Earth is me. "

- Jane Yolen, per Poetry Foundation.

Sunglight bleeds through the trees in a forest with a mossy floor.
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"Sleeping in the Forest" by Mary Oliver

"I thought the earth

remembered me, she

took me back so tenderly, arranging

her dark skirts, her pockets

full of lichens and seeds. I slept

as never before, a stone

on the riverbed, nothing

between me and the white fire of the stars

but my thoughts, and they floated

light as moths among the branches

of the perfect trees. All night

I heard the small kingdoms breathing

around me, the insects, and the birds

who do their work in the darkness. All night

I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling

with a luminous doom. By morning

I had vanished at least a dozen times

into something better."

- Mary Oliver, per the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

An open book sits in between trees in a forest.
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An excerpt from "Remember" by Joy Harjo

"Remember the sky that you were born under,

know each of the star’s stories.

Remember the moon, know who she is.

Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the

strongest point of time. Remember sundown

and the giving away to night.

Remember your birth, how your mother struggled

to give you form and breath. You are evidence of

her life, and her mother’s, and hers.

Remember your father. He is your life, also.

Remember the earth whose skin you are:

red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth

brown earth, we are earth.

Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their

tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,

listen to them. They are alive poems."

- Joy Harjo, per Poets.org.

A brown bear stands in a field of grass while looking off in the distance with golden sunlight.
Source: iStock

"Nature Aria" by Yi Lei, translated by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi

"World, and alone it endures.

Music at midnight.

Young wine.

Lovers hand in hand

By daylight, moonlight.

Living World, hold me

In your mouth,

Slip on your frivolous shoes

And dance with me. My soul

Is the wild vine

Who alone has grasped it,

Who has seen through the awful plot,

Who will arrive in time to vanquish

The river already heavy with blossoms,

The moon spilling light onto packs

Of men. What is sadder than witless

Wolves, wind without borders,

Nationless birds, small gifts

Laden with love’s intentions?

Fistfuls of rain fall hard, fill

My heart with mud. An old wind

May still come chasing in.

Resurrection fire. And me here

Laughing like a cloud in trousers,

Entreating the earth to bury me."

- Yi Lei, per Dogwood Alliance.

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