Poems to celebrate Earth Day 2022, curated by freelance climate and environmental writers


Earth Day 2022 lands the same month the United Nations issued a particularly dire warning that it is “now or never” to act to stop the damage we are causing to our planet from runaway greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse effect.

And while it seems governments in many countries, including the UK, seem to be opting for the ‘never’ option, it’s worth pausing to consider why the existence of a healthy natural world and functional is not only a prerequisite for human life, but it is also a source of inspiration for man that has not diminished throughout the existence of our species.

Earth Day is meant to give us an opportunity to celebrate our planet, not just serve as one more day to remind us how much we misuse it.

So to emphasize that what we have is worth concerting to protect, the writers for The Independent chose some of their favorite poems that relate in some way to the natural world. Enjoy.

The Sick Rose by William Blake

O Rose you are sick.

The invisible worm,

Who flies in the night

In the howling storm:

Discovered your bed

Of crimson joy:

And his dark secret love

Does your life destroy.

This enigmatic short poem, only 34 words over two stanzas, appeared in the Visionary Romantic Poet’s Songs of Experience in 1794 and could serve as a metaphor for many things, but it is more obviously about the agony of observing. the suffering of a loved one, powerless to intervene.

But Blake’s Sick Rose could represent the entire natural world in a microcosm, the “invisible worm” representing the forces of pollution conspiring to undermine and endanger it. A poignant thought from a poet writing and illustrating his verses at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Joe Sommerlad, journalist

Ghosts on My Tongue by Kat Lyons

I was a bookish child

Chased new words like butterflies, discovered them

Pinned to novels from my local library

Crept over them

As they floated

On the margins of adult conversations

Nervously avoiding my easy understanding

I learned a new word the other day-


The term has Tolkien connotations

An 80’s kid I guess he was talking in a Skekis croak

‘ling’ suffix adds diminutive charm

Make it sound cute

Also fantastic

It’s neither of those things

It’s the word for a creature that’s the last of its kind

He describes

This long extended moment measured

In a beating heart

The inspiration/expiration of a single pair of lungs

Before the wave of extinction rolls in

I roll it between my lips

This loneliest word

It tastes like ashes


Ghosts on my tongue

I chose this poem because it alludes to the excruciating pain I sometimes feel as I connect with the devastating destruction of nature my generation has inflicted on our precious land.

And because I believe in opening ourselves to this deep pain, we can tap into the courage to defend it and become peaceful warriors for its protection and repair.

It is possible for us to step back from the precipice and bequeath their rightful legacy to future generations of humans and creatures, of a thriving and bountiful natural world once again.

Let there be no more endlings taking their devastating last breath. Donnachadh McCarthy, columnist

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You don’t have to be good.

You don’t have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repentant.

You just have to let the sweet beast of your body

Tell me about despair, yours, and I’ll tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

move through the landscapes,

on meadows and deep trees,

mountains and rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the pure blue air,

come home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely you are,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

call you like wild geese, hard and exciting –

again and again announcing your place

in the family of things.

Through trillions of possibilities, billions of galaxies, and millions of years, what are the odds that you – reading this article – are here, now?

How often do I forget to revel in the wonder of existence when I am caught up in the banality of everyday life.

“Wild Geese” is my reminder that the safest way home is found in nature. Rita Issa, columnist

Instructions for not giving up by Ada Limón

More than bursting fuchsia funnels

of the crabapple tree, more than that of the neighbor

almost obscene display of cherry branches jostling

their cotton candy-colored flowers on the slate

spring rainy sky is the greening of the trees

it really touches me. When all the shock of white

and the taffy, trinkets and trinkets of the world, go

the sidewalk strewn with confetti according to,

the leaves are coming. Patient, industrious, green skin

growing despite all that winter has done to us, a return

to the strange idea of ​​a life going on despite

the disorder of us, the evil, the void. Well then,

I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a smooth new leaf

fanning out like a fist on an open palm, I’ll take it all.

At Ada LimonInstructions for not giving up speaks to me about the resilience of nature and the human spirit – it’s a brief, sharp reminder of the beauty of the world, even when shrouded in pain. As we emerge from the pandemic, as we continue the fight to protect our planet; this poem is like a totem: a reminder of what is worth saving in the first place. Victoria Richards, editor at Indy Voices and poet. A collection of his work, Primers IV, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2019.

The Tree Accord by Elise Paschen

The neighbor calls the Siberian Elm

a “weed” tree, requires us to breathe

it down, said the leaves overwhelm

his property, the square backyard.

It is collar and tie. A weedy tree?

Branches hide buildings, subway tracks,

his piece of garden. We do not agree,

recover sap, heartwood, wild bark.

He declares the tree “dangerous”.

We take shelter under a pile of leaves, crossroads

for squirrels, branch house for sparrows, jays.

The balcony absorbs the shade.

The chatter drowns out the cars below.

The sun branches out. The leaves are overflowing.

The tree will remain. We tell him “no”.

Root deep through the pavement, Elm.

In my mother’s garden there is a large London plane tree which has grown with us over the years. This poem reminds me of some of the little fights she had with the neighbors, and why it was always so important to us to keep the tree intact.

The comfort that a favorite tree or patch of nature can bring has become even clearer during the lockdown. I think this poem is about the need to preserve these little reminders of the natural world, as well as the larger issue of deforestation. A report published last week by the journal Frontiers in Forests and Global Change found that only 3% of the planet’s surface is ecologically intact.

Hopefully, we’ll end up approaching deforestation with the same defiance as the last line of the poem: “Root deep through the causeway, Elm.” Emma Snaith, Editor-in-Chief

Alice Oswald’s Stone Skimmer

Descending through the two small fields,

disturb the little showy flies that it touches

the restless thistles, their dried skins clinging to their bones.

abundant flowering fading diminishing.

Among the thistles and puddles of the wind

he walks he can almost smell

the worn fur of his flesh, a ghost-seed on a flurry

doomed to float in endless, widening circles.

Stones without eyes, their silence swells and breathes easily in the water,

barely move in the belly of the rivers.

Her mind so rushed and neglected, full of forms

overflowing blooming darkening diminishing:

in the space of five inches between sky and sky

he touches a stone just at the snap of it

contacting the water, the incredible length

Light keeps raising its gliding force

I was brought up in the Wye Valley and regularly went swimming in one of the tributaries of the Wye – the Monnow – which we reached by walking through fields full of cattle, to the bank where chamomile grew in great abundance. When I was a child, this is where I learned to skim the stones, sliding, bending low and throwing rocks on the surface of the river. The Wye and the Monnow are now seriously compromised by pollution. Harry Cockburn – Environment Correspondent


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