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Nature poetry


The whale washed ashore. Its still
body lay for days—turning and turning
one new color after another. 

Claudia Emerson and the Natural World

December 8, 2014

Though she received the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for a collection of deeply personal poems, one of Claudia Emerson’s finest gifts was for inhabiting the voices of others, creating essentially a Spoon River Anthology for rural Virginia.


Here in the stern dark house Of loam, the trees stretch boughs Of roots that hunger downward, roots that keep A pact with silence, a covenant with sleep. Under the leaf mould, under The intricate small wonder Of fern and blossom, the roots go down to [...]

Hillside Trees

BLACK trees against a marble hill Of January snow declare New England to whoever will Behold them darkly standing there. Unveiled of leaves, bereft of sun Save now and then a grudging dole, They stand like berserks every one, Denied the berserks' was [...]


The feast-huddle explodes when I approach,
a gray fox remains, whitening to bone.
The risen wait in the limbs above
for me to glance the marker, pass on.

Poems of Air

The poems of air are slowly dying;
too light for the page, too faint, too far away,
the ones we've called The Moon, The Stars, The Sun,
sink into the sea or slide behind the cooling trees
at the field's edge. The grave of light is everywhere.


Wildly dissimilar
yet actuated by the same fear,
the hippopotamus and the wild-deer
hide by the same river.


Now let the cycle sweep us here and there,
we will not struggle;
under a forest-ledge,
a wild white-pear
will blossom;