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Relating Nature to Human, Social, and Urban Themes

Categories: Commentary, Guest Posts, Poets, Poets Helping Poets, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

This is part two of a three-part series on nature and poetry by guest Daniel Roessler. If you’d like the opportunity to be a guest on this blog, send your ideas (and a little about yourself) to robert.brewer@fwmedia.com.

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In my first post of this series, we investigated how to freshen up nature themes in our poetry by focusing on the changing role of nature in our lives and world. Another way to bring a unique perspective to our nature poems is by considering parallels with human, social and urban themes.

For example, have you ever had a boss who slithered into your office like a snake and spewed venom your way? Okay, maybe that example isn’t the most pleasant, but it gets the point across that nature offers great material for us to compare with other aspects of our life experiences.

Nature and Human Emotion

One of the most obvious examples is human emotion. Who hasn’t felt the joy of a sunny day warming their heart? Or been angry and lashed out with the fury of a thunderstorm? Or after a long week at work felt as free as an eagle soaring across a cloudless sky when quitting time arrives on Friday?

Even if we haven’t felt these specific things ourselves, we can still see how they make sense. While these may be simplistic examples, they highlight the point that many elements of nature are easily relatable on a basic human emotional level.

Nature and Social Interaction

This is also true of how we as humans relate to one another in social interactions. For example, we might describe a schoolyard bully as a tiger stalking his prey. Or we may compare a parent’s love to fertile soil that allows a child to take root and grow like a Redwood.

The possibilities are endless and our relationships with others often mimic connections that occur in nature.

Nature and Urban Themes

In a similar vein, urban themes can bring distinct elements to our nature poems. Maybe we liken a salmon swimming upstream to a man racing against the flow of sidewalk traffic in New York City. Rather than a simple comparison, we might even consider writing a poem with a back and forth exchange between an urban component and the natural environment.

For instance, we might live in a small studio apartment that has no windows, which we describe in one quatrain, then depict a natural cavern in the next, and so on. This method allows our readers to alternate between an urban and nature world, empowering and compelling them to draw the comparisons and contrasts themselves.

We have discussed a few methods and examples here but there are many more. Nature topics are not limited to natural resources but also include topics like weather, wild animals, etc. The wonderful thing about nature is that it is a tremendously broad canvas.

However, bringing human, social and urban themes into our nature poems can infinitely expand the boundaries of our work to create something wonderfully unique.

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Daniel Roesseller

Daniel Roessler

Daniel Roessler is an author and poet who recently placed 4th in our Writers Digest SIJO competition with “Drowning” and 5th in our Triversen competition with “The Eulogy”. He is also the author of one non-fiction book, seeking representation for his recently completed novel, and has two poetry chapbooks in progress. For more information on Daniel, visit his website at www.danielroessler.com.

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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

4 Responses to Relating Nature to Human, Social, and Urban Themes

  1. BDP says:

    I like your ideas on nature/urban themes. Your paragraph that begins with “For instance” really got me thinking. Thanks!

  2. PowerUnit says:

    Humans are creative. Story [and poetry] and thoughts of higher meaning are what set us apart from apes. But in the end, the intelligent and spiritual are still animal.

  3. TomNeal says:

    Maybe we liken a salmon swimming upstream to a man racing against the flow of sidewalk traffic in New York City. Rather than a simple comparison, we might even consider writing a poem with a back and forth exchange between an urban component and the natural environment.

    Thank you for the above. It is a very helpful suggestion.

  4. PressOn says:

    Thanks for this. Metaphors have always been my downfall, or one of them anyway, Your examples give me some handles on them.

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