Perception And Perspective

Understanding the idea of poets as observers is critical if you want to compose nature poetry. For centuries people have looked to the genre to help them appreciate the beauty and design of the natural world. Hence, a poet is expected to behold a tree or a place and see something the casual observer would miss. Again, all this has to do with perception (what we observe) and perspective (how we observe it).

Bad poems about nature abound and share two common traits:

1. The images from nature are either vague, lacking detail, or ordinary. The poet observes what anybody would observe when contemplating an object or living thing.

2. The truth of the natural world is overlooked, leaving the poem without an epiphany or the poet without a peak experience. The poet interprets nature in an inconsequential or cliched manner.

Let's illustrate both shortcomings — ordinary images and lack of epiphany or peak experience — in a poem about Norfolk, a county in eastern England that boasts several rivers draining into the sea. I'll compose a poor nature poem. Then I'll reprint a nature lyric about the same topic by British artist, editor, publisher and poet Rupert M. Loydell.

Here's mine:

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