Poetry is one of the oldest forms of human expression, and nature has always been a popular subject for poets. Nature imagery can be used to communicate a wide range of ideas and emotions, from the beauty of the natural world to the ways that humans interact with it.
Some poems focus on the relationship between humans and nature, using nature as a metaphor for our own lives. Others celebrate the natural world itself, painting a picture of its beauty and majesty. And still others use nature imagery to comment on the ways that humans treat the environment, often highlighting the negative impact we have on our surroundings.
No matter what the purpose, nature poetry can be both moving and enlightening. It allows us to step outside of our everyday lives and see the world in a new light. And it reminds us of the importance of respecting and protecting our natural environment.
The relationship between humans and nature is frequently seen in a favorable light, stressing the idea that nature is representative of beauty; as a result, accepting this depiction will enlighten human existence. The elements of that connection are illustrated in Dylan Thomas’ “Fern Hill” and Robert Frost’s “Birches.” Both writers use an image of nature to convey a message about how focusing on the beauty within the primary world may help one live a meaningful life.
However, modern day poets such as Margaret Atwood and Gary Snyder provide a different perspective by critiquing how humans have damaged the natural environment. As a result, they instead offer an image of nature that is dark, eerie and foreboding to highlight the idea that humans need to change their ways in order to prevent further destruction. Consequently, by analyzing the evolution of this portrayal, one can gain a greater understanding of how humanity’s relationship with nature has changed over time.
While both old and modern poets use nature imagery to make a comment about the relationship between humans and their natural environment, there are some key differences in how this is done. Traditionally, poets would portray nature as being representative of beauty and serenity in order to emphasize the idea that humans should focus on the positive aspects of life.
However, modern day poets tend to present a more negative view of nature by critiquing how humanity has damaged the environment. Consequently, this change in perspective highlights the evolution of this relationship over time and provides insights into how humanity’s attitude towards nature has changed.
Furthermore, Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode” offers a distinct perspective on what it means to connect with nature. The speaker believes that appreciating beauty merely is insufficient; in order to be enlightened, one must identify oneself with that beauty through the soul. Despite the fact that “Fern Hill” and “Birches” appear to be praising superficial human experiences at first glance, when examined together, their meanings are changed.
In “Fern Hill”, Dylan Thomas may have been influenced by Coleridge’s poem to some extent. The speaker in “Fern Hill” is also looking back on his youthful experiences with a sense of regret, because he understands that those experiences can never be recaptured. And like the speaker in “Dejection: An Ode”, he comes to the realization that the natural world cannot provide the same level of satisfaction as it did in his youth.
In “Birches”, Frost initially seems to be advocating for a more idyllic relationship between humans and nature, but upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that he is actually critiquing the way that humans tend to distance themselves from nature. The speaker in the poem wants to escape the mundanity of his everyday life by climbing up into the birches, but he ultimately decides against it because he knows that he will have to come back down to the ground eventually.
When looked at together, these three poems provide a nuanced view of the complex relationship between humans and nature. “Fern Hill” and “Birches” both express a longing for a simpler time, when the natural world was more accessible and meaningful. But “Dejection: An Ode” complicates this picture by suggesting that humans can never really find satisfaction in nature, because they are always looking for something more.
Taken as a whole, these poems suggest that there is no easy answer when it comes to the question of what our relationship with nature should be. We must constantly strive to find a balance between appreciation and detachment, between nostalgia and reality.
The opening stanza of Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode,” the final stanza of Frost’s “Birches”, Thomas’ “Fern Hill” (both included in A Poetical Anthology), and the first three lines of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem all evoke various degrees of dejection; however, when considering the speaker’s feelings and the poem’s imagery patterns, these levels of despair become increasingly difficult to distinguish.
In “Birches”, Frost uses natural imagery to question the speaker’s relationship with his surrounding environment. The poem is set in two main locations, with the first being the “swung” birches and the second being the “frozen lake”. The speaker in “Birches” appears to be struggling with an internal conflict, as he longs for a return to childhood innocence while also accepting the inevitability of maturity. This is conveyed through both the language used and the structural choices made by Frost.
For example, the use of enjambment in lines 3-4 creates a sense of yearning and longing, which is further emphasized by the repetition of “I’d like to get away from earth awhile” in lines 9 and 10. Furthermore, the choice to end the poem with the image of the speaker leaning against the birches creates a sense of finality and acceptance, as if the speaker has come to terms with his place in the world.
In “Fern Hill”, Thomas uses natural imagery to explore the speaker’s relationship with time. The poem is set in a rural farm, and follows the speaker as he reflects on his childhood and youth. The speaker in “Fern Hill” appears to be experiencing a sense of loss, as he looks back on his carefree days with nostalgia. This is conveyed through both the language used and the structural choices made by Thomas.
For example, the use of repetition in lines 1-4 emphasizes the speaker’s sense of nostalgia and longing for the past. Furthermore, the choice to end the poem with the image of the speaker “sleeping in peace” creates a sense of finality and acceptance, as if the speaker has come to terms with his mortality.
In “Dejection: An Ode”, Coleridge uses natural imagery to explore the speaker’s relationship with nature. The poem is set in a rural landscape, and follows the speaker as he reflects on his relationship with nature. The speaker in “Dejection: An Ode” appears to be experiencing a sense of despair, as he feels disconnected from the natural world around him. This is conveyed through both the language used and the structural choices made by Coleridge.