Today, March 21st is World Poetry Day, and the International Day of Forests.  

Many are the poems that celebrate nature in all its forms, and so it is always hard to choose just one to mark today. There is one, however, that explicitly shows what is at stake should we fail to hang onto that which not only keeps us alive but which also makes a significant contribution to making life worth living. Here is an extract from Wordsworth‘s magisterial: Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798

… For I have learned

To look on nature, not as in the hour

Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes

The still sad music of humanity,

Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power

To chasten and subdue.— And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:

A motion and a spirit, that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought,

And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still

A lover of the meadows and the woods

And mountains; and of all that we behold

From this green earth; of all the mighty world

Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,

And what perceive; well pleased to recognise

In nature and the language of the sense

The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,

The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul

Of all my moral being. …

Wordsworth wrote this when England was in transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy with enormous technological development and social disruption.  The world was changing and people were being changed along with it.  In such times, we all need an anchor.

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