Environmental Science Classroom: Poems with a Point

The following poems have been approved for use in university environmental science courses.

I have found over my years of teaching that students appreciate a variety of perspectives.  Poets are said to be the sense organs of our species-- often with deep and intuitive understanding of the big picture and the underlying factors associated with complex issues.  They are often able to deliver the lessons more succinctly and memorably than the professors.

The four poems listed below are a few of the ones I have found to be particularly appropriate.  These are not recently published poems, but their themes are even more important and relevant today than when they were written.  I have provided the publication dates for two of them.  

Your assignment:  Read these poems, then begin writing your own.

"The Flight"  1930.  (Rudyard Kipling)-- describes the displacement of wildlife by human disturbance.

"The Purse-Seine"  1937 (Robinson Jeffers)-- describes the vulnerability of urban populations. Consider that today about 54% of the world's 7 billion people live in urban settings, that by 2050 about 74% of the predicted 9.6 billion people will be urban, and that by 2100, 99% (according to the UN) of the expected 10 billion humans on Earth will be urban-dwellers.  

"The Wages of History" (Wendell Berry)-- a humble poem of agricultural land abuse and the challenges that lie ahead.

"For the Children" (Gary Snyder)-- down-to-Earth advice for tomorrow.