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Final Teach-In Poems

Smacholdt's picture

For our final teach-in Rachel and I picked poems with themes from our class this semester. Here they are:

i thank You God for most this amazing

by e.e. cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


By Henry David Thoreau

O Nature! I do not aspire
To be the highest in thy choir, -
To be a meteor in thy sky,
Or comet that may range on high;
Only a zephyr that may blow
Among the reeds by the river low;
Give me thy most privy place
Where to run my airy race.

In some withdrawn, unpublic mead
Let me sigh upon a reed,
Or in the woods, with leafy din,
Whisper the still evening in:
Some still work give me to do, -
Only - be it near to you!

For I'd rather be thy child
And pupil, in the forest wild,
Than be the king of men elsewhere,
And most sovereign slave of care;
To have one moment of thy dawn,
Than share the city's year forlorn.


By Pat Mora

The desert is no lady.
She screams at the spring sky,
dances with her skirts high,
kicks sand, flings tumbleweeds,
digs her nails into all flesh.
Her unveiled lust fascinates the sun.

The Arrowhead
By Mary Oliver

The arrowhead,
which I found beside the river,
was glittering and pointed.
I picked it up, and said,
“Now, it’s mine.”
I thought of showing it to friends.
I thought of putting it—such an imposing trinket—
in a little box, on my desk.
Halfway home, past the cut fields,
the old ghost
stood under the hickories.
“I would rather drink the wind,” he said,
“I would rather eat mud and die
than steal as you steal,
than lie as you lie.”


By Mary Oliver

Thousands of small fish are moving along in the shallows: a flock, a flight under the weight of the water, dipping and rising, loose-spined; their fins, rowing, are minute and precise; they are energy-packets; six would fit into a thimble, all gauze and glaze, and all translucent—the pipeline of appetite clear in each body. Thousands and thousands—a throng of rainbows, a pod, an enormous pack, yet they swing along as a single rainbow, one wing, one thing, one traveler. Their mouths are open, fierce colanders scooping in the diatoms. They turn to the right, the left. They dash and hover…

It is summer, the long twilight. I stare and stare into the water. I say to myself, which one am I?



rachelr's picture


Following from Smacholdt’s poetry presentation at Ashbridge Park and my opening web event and final site sit choice of poetic forms, we decided to share some poems with the class that we felt both varied in structure and covered some topics we discussed throughout the semester. Poetry was also a form or writing that we didn’t really visit during class time; thought it was worth exploring, both for content and also for the wide variety of different poetic forms and how they might best be used to start an ecological dialog.

So read the poetry. What impact does form have on content? This is an open question, and one that we have been exploring all semester through the different lenses that authors have used in their efforts to invite us to think critically about our relationship with ecology, and to cultivate a love of life.