A while ago, when I was composing a poem about spring, I thought about William Wordsworth and his verse, “The World Is Too Much with Us.” The poet seems almost desperate in his plea for us to open our eyes and see the miracle of nature. Wordsworth laments that toiling in this world for gain — with all of the “getting and spending (has laid) waste our powers.” Wordsworth ends the poem with this resolve:
So may I standing on this pleasant lea
have glimpses that would make me less forlorn
have sight of Proteus rising from the sea
and hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
To me this dictum by the poet to touch the earth with our senses is not only good for our spirit, it heals both body and soul. Watch what happens when you return from paddling a canoe or climbing a mountain or walking in a meadow. Even if we take a short walk around the block or play touch football — there is magic in just being outdoors.
Brenda Ueland writes, “We are always doing something — talking, reading, listening to the radio, planning what next. The mind is kept naggingly busy on some easy, unimportant, external thing all day.” Gauguin told Vincent Van Gogh that he preferred to paint out of the weather. Van Gogh told him that he had to be out in nature; he had to paint outdoors in the light where the colors were authentic and true. Van Gogh said, “Painters understand nature and love her and teach us to see her.”
We’re closer to nature than we think. In many ways we belong to her and she belongs to us. And when we are out in nature our spirits change, our horizon broadens and we feel genuine and true. Would it matter if we closed our eyes to natural things?
Would It Matterif you closed your eyes to natural things
say, walking blindly through a field
of sunflowers, feeling nothing, missing
that shy nod and curtsy as you pass by
These are the flowers Van Gogh made
Famous. How he must have blended
the yellows into a thick oil tapestry
of such desperate affection that the
colors drove him mad with self-hurt
wanting to show his brother what he
saw in short, illuminating strokes
blurred wizardry on canvas, tugging
at the very nub of emotion, falling into
a revelatory depth - unimaginable