Tuesday, April 12, 2016

National Poetry Month: Wild Words from a VINS Fan

By Jordan Daley
Science Outreach Coordinator

April is National Poetry Month and VINS staff, volunteers and fans are celebrating! We recently received a letter from Gabby Baker, a 4th grader who loves VINS. She included a poem that she composed for her fourth grade class.


Miss Baker's poem got me thinking. Poetry has long been the way we ask and attempt to answer big questions about our world. What are we? Where did we come from? What is the earth? How does it work? What is the nature of life?

In my experiences as an environmental educator and an outdoor explorer, I've often turned to poetry as a way to convey things I understand but can't explain, or things that strike me as so beautiful, that my description should sound just as special. Sometimes, it's the poetry that I've read that connects my mind and body to the nature I'm exploring. The words of writers like Walt Whitman, Lawrence Collins, and Annie Dillard ring as true and timeless as the mountains I've climbed.

I think of the tall pines swaying in my childhood backyard when I read Gary Snyder:

"in the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight..."

There's no denying the powerful connection between the natural world and poetry. But this isn't just the Vermont Institute of Nature, we're the Vermont Institute of Natural SCIENCE, and poetry is a part of that too. From Lucretius's "On the Nature of Things," and epic about atoms, to Michael Symmonds Robert's "Corpus," reflections on mapping the genome, throughout human history, poetry has zoomed all the way in to our microscopic observations and all the way out to our cosmic theories to help us explain the way the world works.

This month VINS staff and volunteers will be sharing their own poems about the natural world, science and our work. We invite you to join us!

Send your poems to us via Facebook (Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS)), Twitter (@VINS_Tweets), Instagram (@vinsraptors) or by e-mail at jdaley@vinsweb.org

We can't wait to hear from you! And with that I leave you with one more verse exclaiming the diversity of life on earth, from Erasmus Darwin's "The Temple of Nature".

"ON rapid feet o'er hills, and plains, and rocks,
Speed the scared leveret and rapacious fox;
On rapid pinions cleave the fields above
The hawk descending, and escaping dove;
With nicer nostril track the tainted ground
The hungry vulture, and the prowling hound;
Converge reflected light with nicer eye
The midnight owl, and microscopic fly;
With finer ear pursue their nightly course
The listening lion, and the alarmed horse."

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