In his fine poem (one of my favourites), “Tell me not here, it needs not saying”, A. E. Housman beautifully expresses his love of nature while (in the final verse) acknowledging that Mother Nature is, when all is said and done “heartless and “witless”:
“Possess, as I possessed a season, the countries I resign, where over elmy plains the highway would mount the hills and shine, and full of shade the pillared forest would murmur and be mine.
For nature, heartless, witless nature, will neither care nor know what stranger’s feet may find the meadow and trespass there and go, nor ask amid the dews of morning if they are mine or no”. (Poetrybyheart.org.uk).
Nature is (as Housman says) both “heartless” and “witless”, for she is a myriad of processes and natural forces which proceed with no “concern”? for we humans for, in the final analysis nature is impersonal (although we humans do, of course furnish her with personality and derive pleasure from nature’s beauties, as is acknowledged by Housman).
We “trespass” on nature in two senses. We visit places of beauty/wild spots but our visits are just that – visits (we do not remain). At a deeper level, man trespasses on nature as he is here for a brief time then, he is gone to heaven, hell or nowhere depending on one’s religious convictions or lack thereof.
Nature is, as Housman says, possessed of neither heart nor wits. Poets do, nonetheless see in nature human qualities and attribute to her the joys and sorrows of humankind. Take, for example Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud”:
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze”.
While not wishing to detract from the charming picture painted by Wordsworth, the fact is that the flowers are not (literally) dancing (their movement being caused by the breeze which is, to be fair acknowledged by the poet). Yet despite his acknowledgement of the impersonal play of natural forces (“the breeze”) Wordsworth is, arguably attributing the joy derived by we humans from the act of dancing to flowers.
Nature reminds we humans of our own mortality. For example, in my own poem, “Autumn Bird”, birdsong brings to mind the shortness of our existence here on earth:
An Autumn bird
Sing to me
From a tree,
As I took
A short cut
Through the grounds
Of the doctor’s surgery”.
Doctors heal, and when we pay a visit to a medical man we are (usually) expecting to be cured of whatever ails us. However doctors also treat the dying and the visit of a medical man to a home is often perceived as a bad sign as regards the health of someone dwelling therein. While the above poem derived from my state of mind as I passed through the grounds of my local doctor’s surgery, perhaps it also owes something to the final lines of Larkin’s fine poem “Aubade”:
“The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house”.
Again, in my poem “Wisteria”, the presence of,
“… A few purple flowers, their scent
And ready to fall,
Did to me call”, reminded me of my own mortality.
Ultimately nature is (as Housman rightly remarks) both “heartless” and “witless”. Nonetheless poets have and will always continue to derive both inspiration and pleasure from Mother Nature, I know that I do!
Both “Autumn Bird” and “Wisteria” can be found in my collection of poems, “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems”, which is available in the Kindle store.
Read Audrey Driscoll’s review of the book on her website.
About the author
I was born in Liverpool (UK) on 6 January 1969.I lost the majority of my eyesight at 18-months-old due to a blood clot.I am a braille user and have happy memories of leafing through “The Oxford Book of English Verse” and other poetry collections in the school library. (I attended The Royal School for the Blind, followed by Saint Vincent’s School for the Blind, both of which still exist and are located in Liverpool). I read history and politics at University College Swansea and graduated with a BA (joint hons) and a MA in political theory. During my time at Swansea I participated in the student’s sailing club and have pleasant memories of swimming in the sea when the boat capsized! In 1994 I moved to London where I now live and work. I began writing poetry seriously in 2012. Much of my poetry is inspired by the environment. I am lucky enough to live close to an historic park in the Upper Norwood/Crystal Palace area (a suburb of London).Being visually impaired I use Job Access with Speech or JAWS software which converts text into speech and braille enabling me to use a standard Windows computer or laptop. My collection of poems, “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems”, will be published in September 2018 and is now available, in the Kindle store for preorder.
Listen to a podcast of poet Kevin Morris discussing (and reading from) “The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems – HERE
Find and follow Kevin
“My Old Clock I Wind“
A collection of 74 new and original poems by Kevin Morris. It contains both melancholy and more cheerful pieces contrasting the fact that We can enjoy life but at the same time cannot escape its inevitable end.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (braille edition) or call 0303 123 9999, quoting order number 25870603.
“…Allow yourself to wander through the changing seasons, to experience the magic of limericks, and to be entertained by the musings of a man who sees this world through different eyes… yet another opportunity to experience the world through the poetic eyes of a multi-faceted English poet. My Old Clock I Wind and Other Poems belongs in your collection.” ARA
In this collection of poetry and prose the intimate connections between the natural world and humanity are explored, while a number of pieces are of a humorous nature.
I loved the sheer variety of the pieces in this book – and the lyrical nature of the writing. Most beautiful. Two, in particular, stood out for me: ‘Dark Angel’ and ‘The Great Cycle’. Both evoked the connection we have with the world – though in very different ways, one being a physical bond with the natural world, the other a more inanimate ‘friend’! I thoroughly recommend this exquisite little collection.
Find all Kevin’s books on Amazon
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