It’s national Poem in Your Pocket Day, and brevity has been the soul of wit since (approximately) 1603. We’re celebrating by showcasing some of the shortest nature poems in the history of the written language.
Nature rarer uses Yellow
Than another Hue.
Saves she all of that for Sunsets
Prodigal of Blue
Spending Scarlet, like a Woman
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly
Like a Lover’s Words.
-Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
A summer river being crossed
with sandals in my hands!
-Yosa Buson, Japan (late 18th century)
I stick to the bottom of ships,
The way is rough, I survive,
I arrive, I release my gametes,
How much longer will I have to live?
-Monaca Noble, SERC biologist (1974-)
Nature does with a breeze,
what takes man
a hammer and chisel.
-Hari Srinivas, on a curled autumn leaf
You ask for what reason I stay on the green mountain,
I smile, but do not answer, my heart is at leisure.
Peach blossom is carried far off by flowing water,
Apart, I have heaven and earth in the human world.
-Li Bai, China (701-762 C.E.)
A strip of water’s spread in the setting sun,
Half the river’s emerald, half is red.
I love the third night of the ninth month,
The dew is like pearl; the moon like a bow.
-Bai Juyi, China (772-846 C.E.)
You love the roses – so do I. I wish
The sky would rain down roses, as they rain
From off the shaken bush. Why will it not?
Then all the valley would be pink and white
And soft to tread on. They would fall as light
As feathers, smelling sweet; and it would be
Like sleeping and like waking, all at once!
-George Eliot, (1819-1880)
In moving-slow he has no Peer.
You ask him something in his Ear,
He thinks about it for a Year;
And, then, before he says a Word
There, upside down (unlike a Bird),
He will assume that you have Heard –
A most Ex-as-per-at-ing Lug.
But should you call his manner Smug,
He’ll sigh and give his Branch a Hug;
Then off again to Sleep he goes,
Still swaying gently by his Toes,
And you just know he knows he knows.
-Theodore Roethke (1926-)