I Woke: —
Night, lingering, poured upon the world
Of drowsy hill and wood and lake
And the breeze accompanied with hushed fingers
On the birches.
Gently the dawn held out to me
A golden handful of bird’s-notes.
The natural world has been one of the recurring subjects of poetry, frequently the primary one, in every age and every country. Yet we cannot easily define nature, which, as Gary Snyder points out in his preface to No Nature (1992), “will not fulfill our conceptions or assumptions” and “will dodge our expectations and theoretical models.” Yet the urge to describe the natural world—its various landscapes, its changing seasons, its surrounding phenomena—has been an inescapable part of the history of poetry.
|1596||A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene I [Over hill, over dale]||William Shakespeare|
|1598||Love's Labour's Lost, Act V, Scene 2 [Winter]||William Shakespeare|
|1640||The Noble Nature||Ben Jonson|
|1653||Of Many Worlds in This World||Margaret Cavendish|
|1798||Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798||William Wordsworth|
|1799||Sonnet 92 [Behold that Tree, in Autumn’s dim decay]||Anna Seward|
|1807||My Heart Leaps Up||William Wordsworth|
|1807||[I wandered lonely as a Cloud]||William Wordsworth|
|1807||Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood||William Wordsworth|