Nature and poetry: Gifts of peace

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2014

By Susan and Biff Andrews

The gift of sharing poetry is a holiday tradition at our house, along with sitting around the wood stove with the dog and the cat.

At this moment the dog is in a “food coma” on the rug in front of the fire, and the cat is curled up in the cushy chair she has claimed as her own. She doesn’t say ”meow,” she says “MINE,” as anyone who has the great honor to be the human companion of a Siamese knows.

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Warm and snug, we are watching the birds and squirrels frolic in front of the windows as the sun is setting. We are reminded of one of our favorite winter poems, a gift we give to you:

“Song of the Rabbits Outside the Tavern”

By Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893-1986)

We who play under the pines,

We who dance in the snow

That shines blue in the light of the moon

Sometimes halt as we go,

Stand with our ears erect,

Our noses testing the air,

To gaze at the golden world

Behind the windows there.


Suns they have in a cave

And stars each on a tall white stem,

And the thought of fox or night owl

Seems never to trouble them,

They laugh and eat and are warm,

Their food seems ready at hand,

While hungry out in the cold

We little rabbits stand.


But they never dance as we dance,

They have not the speed or the grace.

We scorn both the cat and the dog

Who lie by their fireplace.

We scorn them licking their paws,

Their eyes on an upraised spoon,

We who dance hungry and wild

Under a winter’s moon.


On these cold winter days, experience nature in its winter glory. Appreciate beauty and grace that is a restorative for body and soul. This is where humanity can find some measure of peace. We need nature, because it is a part of who we are as humans. It is a cure for what ails us.

Feeling stressed out by the holiday hustle and bustle? Unplug, pet the dog, throw the cat out of the chair, sit down, read some poetry, read some poetry to the dog — and then go out and take a walk in nature. Take a deep breath and feel the JOY of nature, wild and free!

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at