Nature has been a recurring theme in poetry through the ages. Its various landscapes, its changing seasons, its creative as well as destructive power, its beautiful phenomenons; have fascinated poets of every generation stimulating them to create verses on it. Romanticism was an influential artistic and literary movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and peaked in the first half of the 19th century. Among other things, glorification of nature was an integral part of Romanticism. Among the best known nature poets, including William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats were part of the Romantic movement. The theme of nature was one of the prominent themes in the poetry of several major 19th century poets including Alfred Lord Tennyson and Emily Dickinson; while the most important nature poets of the 20th century include Robert Frost and Mary Oliver. Here are the 10 most famous nature poets and their best known works.

 

Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder

#10 Gary Snyder

Born: May 8, 1930

Nationality: American

Gary Snyder has a deep interest in Native Americans and their involvement with nature and knowledge of it. Snyder also spent considerable time in Japan studying Zen Buddhism. These interests reflect in his poetry, in which the pre-dominant themes are Buddhist spirituality and nature. Snyder’s poetry blends precise observations of nature with spiritual insights that he has gained primarily through the practice of Zen Buddhism. He views humankind as part of nature and through his poetry he points to ways in which the two may be integrated. Snyder is troubled by the growing deterioration of the environment. He is an environmental activist and has been a spokesman for the preservation of the natural world. Snyder has been honoured with many awards including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1975 and the American Book Award in 1984. Known as the “Poet Laureate of Deep Ecology”, Gary Snyder is one of the most famous contemporary nature poets.

Famous Nature Poems:-

Mountains and Rivers Without End (1996)

Smokey the Bear Sutra (1969)

Riprap (1965)

 

John Clare
John Clare

#9 John Clare

Lifespan: July 13, 1793 – May 20, 1864

Nationality: English

Son of a farm labourer, John Clare began work on local farms at the age of seven. Though he had limited formal education, Clare’s knowledge of the natural world went far beyond that of the other major Romantic poets. He wrote numerous poems that marvellously describe the natural world and the rural life. The first collection of his poetry, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, was published in 1820. It created a stir and was popular among the critics and the public alike. However, Clare struggled professionally for much of his life. He was forgotten after his death and it was only around 100 years later, in the beginning of the 20th century, that interest in his work was revived. Today Clare is regarded as one of the important 19th-century poets and he has been called the “quintessential Romantic poet”. John Clare, who expressed his delight in nature and the rural life through his poems, is one of the most important nature poets of the Romantic Age.

Famous Nature Poems:-

Little Trotty Wagtail

Winter Evening

Wood Pictures in Summer

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson

#8 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lifespan: May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882

Nationality: American

Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement in the mid-19th century that protested against the general state of intellectualism and spirituality at the time. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a leading member of the transcendentalist movement. Emerson was also one of the first major western literary figures to explore the culture of Asia and the Middle East; and this reflects in his poetry. Nature was a major theme in the poetry of Emerson and he explored in many of his poems the spiritual, philosophical and scientific analyses of nature and man’s relationship to nature. For Emerson, nature was subordinate only to God and he believed that it exemplified the self-sufficiency that humans lacked. Apart from his poetry, Emerson also wrote a famous essay titled “Nature”, in which among other things, he suggests that one can understand the truth by studying nature. Among the linchpins of the American romantic movement, Ralph Waldo Emerson hugely influenced future generations of writers and he is one of the most renowned nature poets.

Famous Nature Poems:-

The Humblebee (1899)

Song of Nature (1867)

The Snow Storm (1904)

 

Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver

#7 Mary Oliver

Born: September 10, 1935

Nationality: American

Mary Oliver’s first collection of poems, No Voyage and Other Poems, was published in 1963, when she was 28. Her fifth collection, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She went on to win several other awards including the National Book Award for her 1992 collection New and Selected Poems. The poetry of Mary Oliver is inspired by nature and it describes the sense of wonder it instills in her. Her poems are filled with imagery from her daily walks near her home. She has thus been described as an “indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Due to her affinity for solitude and inner monologues, she has also been compared to Emily Dickinson. Mary Oliver is one of the most renowned living poets and The New York Times describes her as “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet.”

Famous Nature Poems:-

Wild Geese (1986)

The Journey (1963)

The Summer Day (1990)

 

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley

#6 Percy Bysshe Shelley

Lifespan: August 4, 1792 – July 8, 1822

Nationality: English

Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the leading “second generation” Romantic poets and he created some of the best known works of the movement. He was a controversial writer whose poems are marked by uncompromising idealism and great personal conviction. Though he produced works throughout his life, most publishers and journals declined to publish them for fear of being arrested for either blasphemy or sedition. As a result Shelley couldn’t gather a mainstream following during his lifetime. However, his popularity grew steadily following his death and ultimately he achieved worldwide fame and acclaim. Nature was the primary source of poetic inspiration for Shelley. He revered its beauty and felt a close connection to it. However, he knew that nature destroys as often as it creates. Thus the delight in nature in his poetry is balanced by the awareness of its dark side. P. B. Shelley is considered one of the greatest poets in the English language.

Famous Nature Poems:-

Ode to the West Wind (1820)

To a Skylark (1820)

Mont Blanc (1817)

 

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

#5 Emily Dickinson

Lifespan: December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886

Nationality: American

Emily Dickinson lived an introverted life and most of her friendships were formed through correspondence. During her life she was known as an eccentric and few people knew of her immense talent. It was only after her death that her nearly 1800 poems came to light. Initially there was mixed response to her poetry with some praising its “rare individuality and originality” while others disapproving her unusual non-traditional style. Today, Dickinson is ranked among the greatest poets in English literature and she is perhaps the most famous American poet. The theme of nature appears in a lot of poems by Dickinson. It usually overlaps with the themes of death, love and sexuality, which were the other major themes in her work. Dickinson often descried the complexity and mystery of nature like in one of her poems she focuses on the cycles of life expressing awe in the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly.

Famous Nature Poems:-

A Bird, came down the Walk (1891)

There Is Another Sky (1890)

A Light Exists In Spring (1891)

 

Alfred Lord Tennyson
Alfred Lord Tennyson

#4 Alfred Lord Tennyson

Lifespan: August 6, 1809 – October 6, 1892

Nationality: English

Active in the 19th century, Alfred Lord Tennyson was the leading English poet of the Victorian era. He remains one of the most renowned poets in the English language and among the most frequently quoted writers. Tennyson was appointed the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 1850 and he held the position for a record 42 years till his death in 1892. Tennyson was influenced by the writers of the Romantic Age before him as is evident from the richness of his imagery and descriptive writing. He used a wide range of subject matter ranging from medieval legends to classical myths and from domestic situations to observations of nature. While Wordsworth explored the spiritual significance in nature and Keats loved it for its sensual appeal, Tennyson depicts nature with the care of a pictorial artist. He renders nature with minuteness in detail and with an accuracy of observation. He also often described his human subjects in terms of a natural phenomenon. Though he can’t be termed strictly as a nature poet, Tennyson nonetheless composed beautiful descriptive poetry on nature.

Famous Nature Poems:-

The Eagle (1851)

Locksley Hall (1842)

The Lotos-Eaters (1832)

 

Robert Frost
Robert Frost

#3 Robert Frost

Lifespan: March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963

Nationality: American

Robert Lee Frost was called the unofficial “poet laureate” of the United States and he is widely regarded as the greatest American poet of the 20th century. Frost is highly regarded for his deep understanding of the nature of human beings leading to brilliant dramatic monologues or dramatic scenes in his poetry. Though Frost didn’t regard himself as a nature poet, nature is one of the most distinguished features in his poetry and he has written some of the most famous poems on nature. In the poetry of Frost, nature is usually portrayed with respect to its relationship with man. Thus to Frost nature is not divine or a source of pleasure but he looks at it in connection to the human psychology. In 1924, Frost won the Pulitzer Prize for his book New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. He went on to win three more Pulitzers. He remains the only poet and one of only four persons to achieve this feat. In 1960, he was awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the U.S.

Famous Nature Poems:-

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (1923)

Nothing Gold Can Stay (1923)

Birches (1915)

 

John Keats
John Keats

#2 John Keats

Lifespan: October 31, 1795 – February 23, 1821

Nationality: English

Along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats was one of the most prominent figures of the second generation of English Romantic poets. Keats died due to tuberculosis in 1821 at the age of only 25. His work was in publication for only four years and it was not generally well received by critics during his lifetime. However, his reputation grew after his death and by the end of the 19th century, he became one of the most beloved of all English poets. Nature was a great source of inspiration for Keats and images connected with nature are prevalent in his poetry. Unlike Wordsworth for whom nature was divine, Keats loved nature for its sensual appeal like flowers for their vibrant colours and scent; and the flowing water for its calming sound and coolness. Keats described the natural world with great precision and over a hundred plant species have been identified in his works. John Keats is one of the most famous Romantic poets and as a nature poet, he is second only to Wordsworth.

Famous Nature Poems:-

To Autumn (1820)

Ode to a Nightingale (1819)

On the Sea (1817)

 

William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth

#1 William Wordsworth

Lifespan: April 7, 1770 – April 23, 1850

Nationality: English

Wordsworth, along with Coleridge, launched the Romantic Age in English literature with the publication of Lyrical Ballads in 1798. From 1799 to 1808, he lived at the Dove Cottage in the village of Grasmere in the Lake District of England. Here he became friends with another prominent poet, Robert Southey. Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey were the three main figures of the group known as Lake Poets, as they all lived in the Lake District. The years 1797 to 1808 are now recognized as the best years of Wordsworth and are known as his Great Decade. After struggling initially, Wordsworth became one of the most renowned poets in his later years and was appointed Poet Laureate of Britain in 1843. For Wordsworth, nature was divine and he believed that true happiness could only be achieved by existing in harmony with nature. Nature dominates his poetry and some of the best known poems on the subject have been written by him including Daffodils and Tintern Abbey. William Wordsworth is considered one of the greatest poets in English literature and he is the most famous nature poet.

Famous Poems:-

Daffodils (1807)

Tintern Abbey (1798)

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free (1807)

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