Poetry and Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd every year. This day is set aside so that people all over the world can think about the Earth and important matters of concern. It is an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of important environmental issues and there are a variety of different ways to mark and celebrate Earth Day. In addition to some of the more traditional forms of marking the day (such as making posters or holding environmental awareness events) poems are also used to highlight key environmental concerns.  

Also, I recently learned that April is National Poetry Month.  This realization led me to seek out any intersection of the two occasions as I figured that National Poetry Month would stimulate some poetry to be written about the Earth.

My research brought me across some poems that explore the Earth and nature, which I thought were fit to share with the class.  Such poems bear resemblance to the pastoral, which we studied in good detail. Earth Day poems are not a category of their own, but there are certainly poems that are particularly suitable for the occasion and its purpose.  These “Earth Day” poems take on a variety of forms and can range from a short and pithy statement to more verbose pieces. The length and style of the poem is less important than the message itself.  Earth Day poems are seen to have a strong underlying message that should leave people thinking a little deeper about the environment.  A final consideration is that some poems that are often read at Earth Day events are not restricted to being specifically intended for the holiday.  In other words, they were originally written for different reasons but still fit the Earth Day theme.

 Here are links to some of the poems I came across and enjoyed:

 When Earth’s Last Picture Is Painted – Rudyard Kipling


 Earth Day – Jane Yolen


 Pray To What Earth Does– Henry David Thoreau


On a side note, we discussed Dr. Seuss as a poet and his book “The Lorax” addresses being considerate of the environment.  Long before saving the earth became a global concern, Dr. Seuss, speaking through his character the Lorax, warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the Earth’s natural beauty.  Still as he often does so brilliantly, he presents a serious issue in a way that children are able to enjoy. With big, colorful pictures, word play and rhymes he makes “The Lorax” an amusing exposition of environmental concern. 


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