“There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm… It is of incalculable importance that America, Australia, and Siberia should pass out of the hands of their red, black, and yellow aboriginal owners, and become the heritage of the dominant world races.”
– Theodore Roosevelt, The Winning of the West
“I want the fucking Indians out of the park.”
– Mike Harris, Premier of Ontario (1995-2002)
The content of an environmental poem is the same regardless of structure. All environmental poems have the environment at their core, with a focus on saving our planet. Though the subject matter may seem limited, there are many ways a poet can present the material to make it interesting. Writing an effective environmental poem requires nothing more than a creative imagination and an interest in expounding upon our natural surroundings.
Things You’ll Need
1. Choose a topic. You can write about saving the world as a whole, but try to narrow the subjects of your poems down to individual issues within the broad spectrum of the environment. This is not only a good way to expand your use of the material at your disposal, but it can often produce poetic material you may not touch upon when you deal with the broad topic. Jot down words pertaining to the environment in a notebook. Include any metaphors or symbolic elements you can use to construct your poems, as well as a list of adjectives that might work for what you have in mind.
2. Write the first line that comes to mind having to do with the environmental subject you chose. Refer to your notes to spark the idea. Four effective opening lines might be something like:
Release the rains,
Though they are black
With the toxic waste
Of man’s folly.
3. Think about the opening stanza and ask yourself where you’re going with it. Decide if you will work toward a rhyme scheme or pay attention to strict meter. The poem may set itself up for free form. Consider making structural and rhyme scheme decisions based upon the environmental content of the poem. Is there a way to use rhythm and meter to enhance your message.
4. Use analogy, metaphor, and word play to give your environmental poem some literary weight. Try something like this:
Tsunami tides wave goodbye
As they move in and leave
Using the word “wave” is a play on words.