Inspired by Nature is a themed Croak to entertain you with art and creative writing based on nature and the outdoors. We hope it will stimulate you to get creative and produce something yourself. If you do and would like to share them with us, please post them on our Facebook page, Twitter account, or email us at email@example.com
This months feature has been written by Rebecca Neal our Conservation Youth Worker on the Peterborough Green Pathways project, funded by BBC Children in Need.
I love the poet John Clare. Not only does he make my region famous (his home was only a few miles from the Froglife office), but he also wrote a lot about the outdoors. He was inspired by a landscape that still looks similar to what I see on my weekend strolls in the fens.
I came across this fantastic poem by Clare when searching for inspiration for this column. It’s a sonnet, which mean it is written in iambic pentameter (ten syllables with a stress on alternate words: de dum, de dum, de dum, de dum, de dum) and has fourteen lines. It has a non-traditional rhyming scheme for a sonnet whereby pairs of lines rhyme at the end, called “rhyming couplets”. Shakespeare and other famous sonnet writers used a more complex rhyming pattern.
The frog croaks loud and maidens dare not pass
But fear the noisome toad and shun the grass:
And on the sunny banks they dare not go
Where hissing snakes run to the floods below.
The nuthatch noises loud in wood and wild,
Like women turning skreeking to a child.
The schoolboy hears and brushes through the trees
And runs about till drabbled to the knees.
The old hawk winnows round the old crow’s nest:
The schoolboy hears and wonder fills his breast.
He throws his basket down to climb the tree
And wonders what the red blotched eggs can be:
The green woodpecker bounces from the view
And hollos as he buzzes by “kew kew”
John Clare 1793-1864 © Eric Robinson (2016)
I love the fact that this poem has frogs, toads and snakes in it (perhaps I am biased!), and talks about the interaction between nature and people. This loss of this interaction is what Froglife’s education work is trying to address. Even when the interaction is one of fear, at least there is a connection. I also love the language; noisome is a great word, I am now going to try to use more often in everyday conversations! Here is the definitions of some of the more archaic words:
Drabbled: become wet and dirty by movement through muddy water
Skreeking: a high-pitched screeching noise
Winnow: to fan or beat the air with wings
I was inspired by these words to write a short story for my creative writing evening class with as many strange sounding old words as I could fit in. If you are also inspired by John Clare and want to share what you write, please get in touch.