Extra natura I Poetry

We began the chapter on nature poetry by noting that, at least in part, poems set in the real world are about nature. What about poems set somewhere else: in heaven, on Mars, in the mind? What to call these? For centuries, critics have labeled such categories of verse religious, metaphysical and sublime. The religious poem usually was devotional; the metaphysical, metaphoric; and the sublime, intellectual. More recently, however, religious verse has become associated with churches or movements (e.g., Catholicism or Fundamentalism); the metaphysical, with the supernatural; and the sublime, with psychology. Clearly, another nomenclature is needed: hence, the term extranatural (or beyond the natural world).

The term is broad, encompassing many types of poems. For example, is this one by Kevin Bezner (a poet-essayist who teaches writing in North Carolina) an extranatural or an environmental poem?

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