Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Nature of Nature Poetry

Okay, it's time to come clean and admit that my recent post, titled "The Poet Attempts to Write a Poem Completely From the Viewpoint of Nature," was a bit of a joke.  The poem was nothing but empty space surrounded by two brackets.  It was also a bit of a philosophical statement.  The whole thing started as many nature poems do:  I had been out for a walk on a beautiful November day.  (My family and I, parents, and sister were at Deep Creek Lake, in western Maryland for the Thanksgiving holiday.)  The air was cool and crisp; there was a slight breeze; the sun was shining; it was quiet.  Perfect morning for an introspective walk and gazing at the landscape.  I returned to the house we were renting, got my coffee, and sat in the sun on the porch determined to write a poem extolling nature, the beautiful day, etc., etc.  Words came to mind:  "the rising sun...;" "the sun rising over the mountains...;" "wind rattles through the trees..."  The more I thought and wrote, the less pleased I was-- this wasn't a nature poem, it was a poem about me describing a scene in nature.  All of the things I experienced on my walk, or sitting on the porch; all of the things I saw, felt, sensed, were really about me and my perceptions of nature-- they weren't nature itself.  Could I write a poem about nature completely from the viewpoint of nature?  What would that look like?  My sister joined me, and I posed the question to her.  I couldn't write that the sun rose, because it doesn't really rise-- it only appears to rise from the standpoint of us humans.  Could I write that the wind blew?  Not really.  Since wind is caused by changes in air pressure and cooler or warmer air moving in to fill a void, nothing is blown.  Wind is a sensation experienced by humans and other animals that can notice the change in pressure.  We couldn't write that a leaf moved because, well, a leaf is incapable of movement on its own.  The best I could do would be to write that the leaf was pushed or was moved by the wind or something else.

My sister and I tried to think of different verbs that could be used in a poem, and quickly reached the conclusion that nearly any verb we would want to use comes with human interpretation, emotion, baggage attached.  Maybe a poem completely from the viewpoint of nature would have to be a series of nouns.  Sun. Wind. Trees.  But, then, these are all human descriptions for things we see.  The sun doesn't know that it's a sun or a star.  "Wind" is our word for the sensation we feel and see when air pressure changes.  Trees are just another type of plant, unaware (we assume) of the way in which they differ from flowers or grass.

We concluded that nature just is.  It is all a human construct, including what we consider to be beautiful about nature.  So, a poem about nature completely from the viewpoint of nature would have to be wordless; a blank page (I included the brackets only because I was unable to create a blank page in the blogger format).  So, the poem became a something of a philosophical statement, more artistic than poetic, and led to another poem which makes the statement a bit more clearly (posted just prior to the blank poem).

Let me know what you think.    

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