Poetry Friday: Thoreau, Nature, & Poetry Swap

Michelle-Kogan-© Wildlife-Comes to Lake Shore Drive, endangered species, watercolor and watercolor pencil, 2013, 40 x 26 inches.

Wildlife Comes to Lake Shore Drive, endangered species, © 2013 Michelle Kogan, watercolor and watercolor pencil. Available in my online Etsy Shop Michelle Kogan Fine Art

I read last week that today is Henry David Thoreau’s Birthday (I think from a comment by Diane Mayr,)  in his memory I’m sharing a poem he wrote. I wrote a response golden shovel that I built from a line I read in Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring–Both Carson and Thoreau were deeply involved in conservation–and Thoreau thought to be the beginning of the conservation movement–and both had an intrinsic love of nature. I momentarily went down a rabbit’s hole and found a few interesting articles about Carson and Thoreau–one by Margaret Atwood and another over at HUFFPOST.

By Henry David Thoreau

The Moon now rises to her absolute rule
And the husbandman and hunter
Acknowledge her for their mistress.
Asters and golden reign in the fields
And the life everlasting withers not. 
The fields are reaped and shorn of their pride
But an inward verdure still crowns them;
he thistle scatters its down on the pool

Read the rest of Thoreau’s poem at the Poetry Foundation.



To your “boreal fruit” and
precious “palatable fruit,” where 
all should be protected–great grievances are
everywhere. On the
ground and below, where men
have soiled the earth, and who
know better supposedly–
But continue to mis-understand
the dire effects of not caring for the
land–Earth’s land and value
to all living inhabitance of
all the trajectories of nature, proper
care of our land and its habitat
needs to become our top priority for
the survival of all– The
asters and thistle desire your preservation
for pride of humanity, for continuation of 
all life including, our sister, wildlife.

 © 2018 Michelle Kogan




And … with this being a nature focused post I’m also sharing my nature-infused poetry swap from Molly Hogan. She sent a keen poem called The Artist, along with some richly layered and gorgeous photo cards. Many thanks for these stunning pieces of nature woven into words and images Molly!



© 2018 by Molly Hogan

In a ripe moment
her thoughts clarify
she touches brush
 to water
to paint
to paper

Each stroke
deft and sure
detail by detail
an image emerges
infused with meaning and color
a celebration of nature
a display of outrage
a call for action

She works her alchemy 
hour by hour
touching brush
to water
to paint
to paper

with craft and concentration
the artist distills
her potent truth
upon the page

for Michelle Kogan


I wrote a response poem to your lovely images Molly–


Splendor grows

            In wavy waters
            where bullfrogs frolic           

            In sunny spots
            where turtles stretch

            In flower gardens 
            where monarchs flutter

            In tidal pools 
            where shells lay on color-kissed crimson

            In mysterious branches 
            where herons herald possibilities

                                       Splendor grows…

                                      © 2018 Michelle Kogan

The Poetry Friday Roundup is being hosted this week by Sylvia Vardell, on her blog Poetry for Children–where she is offering a new poetry book, Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, with a host of other wonderful poets! Thanks Sylvia for hosting.


About Michelle Kogan Art, Illustration, & Writing

Michelle Kogan is an artist, illustrator, instructor, and writer, creating colorful allegorical figure, flora and fauna paintings and children's illustrations, which have a sensitivity to endangered species, and the environment. She is an art instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Evanston Art Center and offers Plein Air Painting Workshops at nature venues in the Chicago area including the Lincoln Park Conservatory, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park. Visit her online Etsy Shop at: http://www.MichelleKoganFineArt.etsy.com and her website: http://www.michellekogan.com
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35 Responses to Poetry Friday: Thoreau, Nature, & Poetry Swap

  1. Michelle! What a rich, rich post for this week’s poetry friday. I love all the poems united by a love of nature and conservation. Molly really paid you a lovely tribute in how your brush and art extends your poetry from page to face to face interaction in the world. This post is a keeper! Wonder-full and fresh. “our sister, wildlife.” Just delightful.

    • Thanks Linda-serendipitously it all fit together. One thing I love about painting from nature is I can get lost and focus solely on the images in-front of me and set the politics temporarily aside. I don’t know how people can’t love nature, support it, and take care of it—it provides us with life!

  2. katswhiskers says:

    Wow! You have been super-busy this week, Michelle. What a feast of words and images – both yours and others. Loving your bird cry artwork – so alive! Molly’s poem is you in a pen-stroke! And your response to her photos – sheer splendour! Lovely.

  3. Sally Murphy says:

    So much to love in this post, Michelle. A real feast of poetry, artwork, photography and love. Thanks for sharing.

  4. mbhmaine says:

    Michelle, your art work is stunning! I love the meadow larks and the richness of all that interwoven life in front of the cityscape. It’s the perfect foil for the poems you shared. I’m so glad you enjoyed the poetry swap and your response poem to the photo cards is just beautiful! I especially love,
    “In tidal pools
    where shells lay on color-kissed crimson”
    and the repeated line “splendour grows.” This is a post where nature reigns supreme…as it should!

  5. lindabaie says:

    What a wonderful start to my PF reading. Your own painting is awesome, filled with summer creatures and flowers, then for Thoreau’s birthday, his own words, finally all really punctuated by Molly’s pictures and poem for you. Special post, Michele.

  6. cvarsalona says:

    Michelle, your artwork is outstanding again. It is rich with summer life. Beside that there is the Thoreau poem with its beautiful line: “…And the life everlasting withers not.” Then, you follow it up with Molly’s breathtaking nature photos and a poem that pays tribute to you the artist. The last stanza has a mix of your beliefs attached to your artworks. I do like your response to Molly, that was an added bonus to your post.

  7. Thank you for this bountiful post, Michelle! I feel like we should shout Rachel Carson’s line from the rooftops! And Molly’s poem is spot on. Your ability to distill the “potent truth/upon the page,” whether in words or images, is a marvel to me. And yes, splendor grows!

  8. Irene Latham says:

    Michelle, that Lake Shore Drive piece is a favorite of mine! Thank you. And wow, Molly’s poem is so very YOU… alchemy, indeed! Thanks also for sharing your Splendor… my life feels rich with wildlife these days, and so these words are riding my bloodstream right now. Thank you! xo

  9. Donna Smith says:

    You’ve got it all going on here today! Thanks for ALL. Loved every morsel.

  10. Wow, what an abundance of art– both visual and textual! Thanks for adding these beautiful words and images to our Poetry Friday celebration!

  11. Stunning art and heart-felt words. I always learn something here. Thanks for the card, too. As for my eye, I may not know what it is for weeks, possibly after the surgery. I appreciate your kind words more than I can say. XOXO

  12. Kay Mcgriff says:

    I want to breathe deeply and spend time in this glorious post that celebrates the bounty in nature–and calls us to protect it before it’s too late. Everything–words and images from you and Molly–is just stunning Thank you!

  13. haitiruth says:

    This is such a lovely post! I love the word “alchemy” – perfect. And your golden shovel is great. Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

  14. maryleehahn says:

    I’m loving all the nature in this post!

  15. Tabatha says:

    I love how your post is a conversation between Thoreau, Molly, and you, and your rich relationships with the natural world.

  16. Such treasures you’ve shared here–I love the link of wild and human habitat you’ve shown on Lake Shore Drive! Thanks for sharing all of these poems and Molly’s wonderful gifts.

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