Posts tagged ‘emily dickinson’

April 24, 2014

Poem in Your Pocket Day: What’s in YOUR Pocket?

by Melissa Harding


“Poetry should…should strike the reader as a wording of his highest own thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.”
– John Keats

As promised, we are sharing some of our favorite poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day. If you have not found your own poem to share, we are happy to provide some examples! Of course, in keeping with the theme of connecting to nature, we wanted to share two of our favorite nature poems:

Grasshopper by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Of, if you are looking for something a little shorter:

XCVII by Emily Dickinson
To make a prairie it takes a clover
and one bee, –
One clover and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do
If bees are few.

Once you have found your special poem, share it! You’ll be surprised how the power of poetry can transform your community.

If you would like to learn more about Poem in Your Pocket Day, read this post.

To read more about how poetry can help connect us to nature, check out this blog post.

The above photo was taken by Lisa Xu.


December 24, 2013

Connecting to Nature Through Poetry: Emily Dickinson

by Melissa Harding


Connecting to Nature Through Poetry is a segment of the blog featuring poets who inspire their readers to establish strong connections to nature and community. An appreciation of poetry and art is connected to achievement in science and success in adult life; however, there is no need to be an expert on poetry to enjoy it. Poetry is for everyone.  As Plato once said, “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history”.  

Does Emily Dickinson remind you of a sad, old-timey spinster sitting in her parlor absently stroking her cats? Or perhaps she puts you in mind of a particularly boring English teacher you once had in high school, the one who was also prone to talking to her own twelve cats. It may be surprising then to learn that Emily Dickinson is nothing like those images, but rather was a sharp-witted, science-minded woman who bristled sharply at the constraints of mid-nineteenth century gender roles. Emily was a well-educated woman during a time when education for women was little more than a token. She rebelled against expectations, asserting her independence through her writing, and her words are as far from stuffy as can be. Emily Dickinson was a bold, sassy cat and her poetry is a reflection of this.

While she may be best known for writing about love and nature, she also wrote a great deal about the dichotomy between science and faith, the failings of modern society and her disdain for the role of women in marriage. Emily used her love of botany and her observations of the natural world to talk frankly about larger issues. She wrote about love, death, time, and eternity in the guise of poems about flowers and springtime. While her excellent descriptions of nature draw you in, the meaty content of her poems keeps you there reading more.

My cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I’m feeling for the air;
A dim capacity of wings
Degrades the dress I wear.

A power of butterfly must be
The aptitude to fly,
Meadows of majesty concedes
And easy sweeps of sky.

So I must baffle at the hint
And cipher at the sign,
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clew divine.

Don’t hold Emily’s posthumous success against her, especially the fact that many of her works have ended up on greeting cards. There is a reason why they are so popular. Many of her most famous works are beautiful, filled with descriptions that personify nature and make it easy to connect to. It is easy to imagine the colors of dusk as being swept there by a housewife in the sky or leaves as rustling female confidants.  Emily wrote these words to ease her own sense of isolation and make controversial statements in a world that was often disappointing to her. She also wrote them to connect with her close friends and family and to celebrate her love of the natural world. Her poems about hope and love strike a chord in the human heart and remain powerful, no matter how often they end up on the sides of coffee mugs.

I’ll tell you how the sun rose, –
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.

The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
“That must have been the sun!”

But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile.
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while

Till when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars,
And led the flock away.

Read a full biography of Emily Dickinson and find selected poems here.

To read about using poetry to connect children to nature, check out our blog post.

Why is poetry important to science education? Find out here.

The above photo was taken by Julia Petruska.

September 27, 2013

Weekend Nature Challenge: Pressing Flowers and Leaves

by Melissa Harding



The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is getting plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

– Emily Dickinson


September is a beautiful month – not quite summer, not quite fall.  Flowers are still growing, tomatoes are still on the vine and the sun is still warm enough to bask in, yet leaves are already falling, apples are ready to pick and everything seems to be flavored with cinnamon. This in-between month is a wonderful time to be outside. It is also a very colorful time, even more vibrant than summer; yellow goldenrod, purple blazing star and the red maples are everywhere! Formerly green trees are suddenly a rainbow of colors and even the sides of the road are bright and cheerful. However, while these colors are short-lived, they are also easy to preserve. This is a great time of year for collecting and pressing flowers and leaves.

This weekend, we challenge you and your family to a fall treasure hunt. More specifically, a collecting hunt for flowers and leaves. Find the brightest colors that you can and pick them to take home and preserve. This challenge combines two activities that kids love – outside treasure hunts and smooshing things together. Spend some time scouring the ground, roadside, bushes and trees for a rainbow of plants. While you’re at it, keep your eyes peeled for grasshoppers, groundhogs and other critters who may be out and about. When you get home, press your treasures in a phone book or a flower press; for a faster pressing time, put a heavy object like a dictionary or an iron on top of your press. Check every week until they are your desired crispiness and then use them to decorate your home, make art or just to observe!

Take the next few days to explore the your neighborhood for colorful plants. What did you notice about the plants that you found? Did you find any cool critters or other things of note? Tell us in the comments below.

The above photo was taken by Melissa Harding.


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