The Glens Trail, Gorge Metro Park

a “gorge”ous preview of our Saturday hike

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Backyard Brief: Little White King

The other day, my husband spotted another striking, first-time visitor to our house, a male white-crowned sparrow. One day in rain, the next in sunshine, he stuck to the grass to forage for fallen seed.

According to my slightly outdated North American birds guide, we’re in His Majesty’s winter range. Perhaps he has been dethroned and is migrating northward to a new seat of power. I wonder if he is related to the White King in my Alice novel. Look closely: This fancy little monarch even wears white eyeliner on his lower lids.

He must be French, or maybe Quebecois.

Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry, 1a: “The Sunlight on the Garden”

I would be remiss if I neglected this addendum to my last post‘s “sun spots”: the opening stanza of a cherished poem I once had memorized, “The Sunlight on the Garden” by Irish poet Louis MacNeice.

The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told 
We cannot beg for pardon.

The regular meter, musical rhythm, and patterns of rhyme, as well as the poem’s simplicity and manageable length (24 lines), aid in its successful memorization and recitation. Published in 1938, it is half war poem and half nature poem, but at its heart, it is a nostalgic love song. I hope you’ll read it in its entirety.

In the next post of this nature verse series, I shine a spotlight on two Elizabeth Bishop poems.

Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry, 1: Sun Spots

For this first in a series of posts featuring nature verse by famous poets, I present to you little spots of sunlight, lines of poetry I love that describe the effects of the sun on different scenes and objects.

To celebrate summer and continue the theme from my last post of original sunset photos, here are a few flashes of poetic sunshine. (A slash mark indicates the end of a line.)


From “A Plain Song for Comadre” by Richard Wilbur:

“ . . . sometimes the early sun / shines as she flings the scrub water out, with a crash / of grimy rainbows, and the stained suds flash / Like angel-feathers . . .”

From “The Fish” by Marianne Moore:

“. . . submerged shafts of the / sun, / split like spun / glass, move themselves with spotlight swiftness / into the crevices—”

From “Portrait d’une Femme” by Ezra Pound:

“For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things, / Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff: / In the slow float of differing light and deep . . .”

From “The Sun Underfoot Among the Sundews” by Amy Clampitt:

“But the sun / among the sundews, down there, / is so bright, an underfoot / webwork of carnivorous rubies, / a star-swarm thick as the gnats / they’re set to catch, delectable / double-faced cockleburs, each / hair-tip a sticky mirror / afire with sunlight, a million / of them and again a million, / each mirror a trap set to / unhand unbelieving, . . . // But the sun / underfoot is so dazzling / down there among the sundews, / there is so much light / in the cup that, looking, you start to fall upward.”


Equally dazzling, full versions of these poems are available online and in published collections. If you like any of the excerpts, check out the whole poem!

Or, ICYMI, catch the analyzed sample of Thomas Hardy’s “The Darkling Thrush” I shared a few weeks ago as a prelude to this series.

Samples of my own nature verse on this blog appear in a series of 10 posts I call “Wild Verses: Bits of Nature Poetry.” Here is the last of those.

What are some of your favorite lines of sunny verse?