Poetry has the power to dialogue directly with our heart. In global warming poems you will see a lot about our current moment, capable of translating feelings that many can’t express.
You may already know, but climate change affects everything on planet Earth:
- the water
- the soil
- the trees
- the animals
- the humans
- the sea
Basically, everything that we know. For this reason, in this list of 18 poems, you will find several themes, some more pessimistic, some more reflective texts and some phrases about global warming that will make you reflect all week.
I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth
so I count my hopes: the bumblebees
are making a comeback, one snug tight
in a purple flower I passed to get to you;
your favorite color is purple but Prince’s
was orange & we both find this hard to believe;
today the park is green, we take grass for granted
the leaves chuckle around us; behind
your head a butterfly rests on a tree; it’s been
there our whole conversation; by my old apartment
was a butterfly sanctuary where I would read
& two little girls would sit next to me; you caught
a butterfly once but didn’t know what to feed it
so you trapped it in a jar & gave it to a girl
you liked. I asked if it died. you say you like
to think it lived a long life. yes, it lived a long life.
(a poem by Fatimah Asghar)
Advice to a Prophet
When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,
Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
In God’s name to have self-pity,
Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,
The long numbers that rocket the mind;
Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,
Unable to fear what is too strange.
Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.
How should we dream of this place without us? —
The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,
A stone look on the stone’s face?
Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive
Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost
How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,
How the view alters. We could believe,
If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip
Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,
The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,
The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip
On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn
As Xanthus once, its gliding trout
Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without
The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return,
These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?
Ask us, prophet, how we shall call
Our natures forth when that live tongue is all
Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken
In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean
Horse of our courage, in which beheld
The singing locust of the soul unshelled,
And all we mean or wish to mean.
Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose
Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding
Whether there shall be lofty or long standing
When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.
(a poem by Richard Wilbur)
is what my sons call the flowers —
purple, white, electric blue —
pom-pomming bushes all along
the beach town streets.
I can’t correct them into
hydrangeas, or I won’t.
Bees ricochet in and out
of the clustered petals,
and my sons panic and dash
and I tell them about good
insects, pollination, but the truth is
I want their fear-box full of bees.
This morning the radio
said tender age shelters.
This morning the glaciers
are retreating. How long now
until the space-print backpack
becomes district-policy clear?
We’re almost to the beach,
and High dangerous! my sons
yell again, their joy in having
spotted something beautiful,
and called it what it is.
(a poem by Catherine Pierce)
Some Effects of Global Warming in Lackawanna County
The maples sweat now, out of season.
Buds pop eyes in wintry bushes
as the birds arrive, not having checked
the calendars or clocks. They scramble
in the frost for seeds, while underground
a sobbing starts in roots and tubers.
Ice cracks easily along the bank.
It slides in gullies where a bear, still groggy,
steps through coiled wire of the weeds.
Kids in T-shirts run to school, unaware
that summer is a long way off.
Their teachers flirt with off-the-wall assignments,
drum their fingers on the sweaty desktops.
As for me, my heart leaps high —
a deer escaping from the crosshairs,
skipping over barely frozen water
as the surface bends and splinters underfoot.
(a poem by Jay Parini)
Song for the Turtles in the Gulf
We had been together so very long,
you willing to swim with me
just last month, myself merely small
in the ocean of splendor and light,
the reflections and distortions of us,
and now when I see the man from British Petroleum
lift you up dead from the plastic
bin of death,
he with a smile, you burned
and covered with red-black oil, torched
and pained, all I can think is that I loved your life,
the very air you exhaled when you rose,
old great mother, the beautiful swimmer,
the mosaic growth of shell
so detailed, no part of you
or able to be created
by any human,
How can they learn
the secret importance
of your beaten heart,
the eyes of another intelligence
than ours, maybe greater,
with claws, flippers, plastron.
Forgive us for being thrown off true,
for our trespasses,
in the eddies of the water
where we first walked.
(a poem by Linda Hogan)
Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years from Now
Most likely, you think we hated the elephant,
the golden toad, the thylacine and all variations
of whale harpooned or hacked into extinction.
It must seem like we sought to leave you nothing
but benzene, mercury, the stomachs
of seagulls rippled with jet fuel and plastic.
You probably doubt that we were capable of joy,
but I assure you we were.
We still had the night sky back then,
and like our ancestors, we admired
its illuminated doodles
of scorpion outlines and upside-down ladles.
Absolutely, there were some forests left!
Absolutely, we still had some lakes!
I’m saying, it wasn’t all lead paint and sulfur dioxide.
There were bees back then, and they pollinated
a euphoria of flowers so we might
contemplate the great mysteries and finally ask,
“Hey guys, what’s transcendence?”
And then all the bees were dead.
(a poem by Matthew Olzmann)
Some things on this earth are unspeakable:
Genealogy of the broken —
A shy wind threading leaves after a massacre,
Or the smell of coffee and no one there —
Some humans say trees are not sentient beings,
But they do not understand poetry —
Nor can they hear the singing of trees when they are fed by
Wind, or water music —
Or hear their cries of anguish when they are broken and bereft —
Now I am a woman longing to be a tree, planted in a moist, dark earth
Between sunrise and sunset —
I cannot walk through all realms —
I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark —
What shall I do with all this heartache?
The deepest-rooted dream of a tree is to walk
Even just a little ways, from the place next to the doorway —
To the edge of the river of life, and drink —
I have heard trees talking, long after the sun has gone down:
Imagine what would it be like to dance close together
In this land of water and knowledge. . .
To drink deep what is undrinkable.
(a poem by Joy Harjo)
The Poem Grace Interrupted
There once was a planet who was both
sick and beautiful. Chemicals rode through her
that she did not put there.
Animals drowned in her eyeballs
that she did not put there —
animals she could not warn
against falling in because
she was of them, not
separable from them.
Define sick, the atmosphere asked.
So she tried: she made
a whale on fire
swimming and alive.
See? she said. Like that,
kind of. But the atmosphere did
not understand this, so the planet progressed in her argument.
She talked about the skin
that snakes shed, about satellites that circled her
like suitors forever yet never
said a word.
She talked about the shyness
of large things, how a blueberry dominates
the tongue that it dies on.
She talked and talked and
the atmosphere started nodding —
you could call this
a revolution, or just therapy.
Meanwhile the whale spent the rest of his
life burning (etc., etc., he sang a few songs).
When he finally died
his body, continuing
to burn steadily, drifted down
to the ocean floor.
And although the planet
had long since forgotten him — he was merely one
of her many examples — he became
a kind of god in the eyes
of the fish that saw him as he fell. Or
not a god exactly, but at least something
inexplicable. Something strange and worth
briefly turning your face toward.
(a poem by Mikko Harvey)
The sands of time have rendered fear
Blue skies on high no longer clear
Stars were bright whence they came
Now dimmed, obscured, pollution’s haze
Crystal clear our waters gleamed
Fish abundant, rivers streamed
Ocean floors sandy white
Now littered, brown, pollution’s plight
Trees towered high above
Trunks baring professed love
Birds chirping from sites unseen
Gone, paper joined pollution’s team
One can’t blame pollution alone
As they say, you reap what you’ve sown
So let us plant a better seed
Tear out old roots, cultivate, weed
Protect what has been given for free
Our waters, skies, wildlife and trees
For once they’re gone, don’t you say
Consider yourself warned of that fatal day
(a poem by Sylvia Stults)
Moonlight pours down
without mercy, no matter
how many have perished
beneath the trees.
The river rolls on.
There will always be
silence, no matter
how long someone
has wept against
the side of a house,
bare forearms pressed
to the shingles.
Even pain, even sorrow.
The swans drift on.
Reeds bear the weight
of their feathery heads.
Pebbles grow smaller,
smoother beneath night’s
rough currents. We walk
long distances, carting
our bags, our packages.
Burdens or gifts.
We know the land
is disappearing beneath
the sea, islands swallowed
like prehistoric fish.
We know we are doomed,
done for, damned, and still
the light reaches us, falls
on our shoulders even now,
even here where the moon is
hidden from us, even though
the stars are so far away.
(a poem by Dorianne Laux)
Ice Would Suffice
How swift, how far
carries a body from shore.
Empires fail, species are lost,
and tufted puffins forsaken.
After eons of fauna and flora, hominids have stood
for mere years
baffled brains atop battered shoulders.
In a murky blanket of heavens
an icy planet
made of diamond spins.
Our sun winks like the star
billions of years ago, without ambition.
We bury bodies in shallow dirt, heedless of lacking space
or how long
our makeshift planet will host us.
(a poem by Risa Denenberg)
like some 14 year old girl waiting for her crush to glance back i
keep waiting for capitalism to end
but it won’t end
my adult life lover states
on what will end:
Sprinting during recess
Starfish shaped like stars
Leopards, all kinds
( — — — -) Violence Prevention Programs
Might a few jellyfish survive —
counting till revelations becomes part of —
(a poem by Eunsong Kim)
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Glacier (after Wallace Stevens)
Among starving polar bears,
The only moving thing
Was the edge of a glacier.
We are of one ecology
Like a planet
In which there are 200,000 glaciers.
The glacier absorbed greenhouse gases.
We are a large part of the biosphere.
Humans and animals
Humans and animals and glaciers
We do not know which to fear more,
The terror of change
Or the terror of uncertainty,
The glacier calving
Or just after.
Icebergs fill the vast Ocean
With titanic wrecks.
The mass of the glacier
Disappears, to and fro.
Hidden in the crevasse
An unavoidable cause.
O vulnerable humans,
Why do you engineer sea walls?
Do you not see how the glacier
Already floods the streets
Of the cities around you?
I know king tides,
And lurid, inescapable storms;
But I know, too,
That the glacier is involved
In what I know.
When the glacial terminus broke,
It marked the beginning
Of one of many waves.
At the rumble of a glacier
Losing its equilibrium,
Every tourist in the new Arctic
chased ice quickly.
They explored the poles
for offshore drilling.
Once, we blocked them,
In that we understood
The risk of an oil spill
For a glacier.
The sea is rising.
The glacier must be retreating.
It was summer all winter.
It was melting
And it was going to melt.
The glacier fits
In our warm-hands.
(a poem by Craig Santos Perez)
If all you counted were tires on the cars left in driveways and stranded beside the roads. Melted dashboards and tail lights, oil pans, window glass, seat belt clasps. The propane tanks in everyone’s yards, though we didn’t hear them explode.
R-13 insulation. Paint, inside and out. The liquor store’s plastic letters in puddled colors below their charred sign. Each man-made sole of every shoe in all those closets. The laundromat’s washers’ round metal doors.
But then Arco, Safeway, Walgreens, the library — everything they contained.
How many miles of electrical wire and PVC pipe swirling into the once-blue sky: how many linoleum acres? Not to mention the valley oaks, the ponderosas, all the wild
hearts and all the tame, their bark and leaves and hooves and hair and bones, their final cries, and our neighbors: so many particular, precious, irreplaceable lives that despite ourselves we’re inhaling.
(a poem by Molly Fisk)
Letter to Noah’s Wife
You are never mentioned on Ararat
or elsewhere, but I know a woman’s hand
in salvation when I see it. Lately,
I’m torn between despair and ignorance.
I’m not a vegetarian, shop plastic,
use an air conditioner. Is this what happens
before it all goes fluvial? Do the selfish
grow self-conscious by the withering
begonias? Lately, I worry every black dress
will have to be worn to a funeral.
New York a bouillon, eroded filigree.
Anything but illness, I beg the plagues,
but shiny crows or nuclear rain.
Not a drop in London May through June.
I bask in the wilt by golden hour light.
Lately, only lately, it is late. Tucking
our families into the safeties of the past.
My children, will they exist by the time
it’s irreversible? Will they live
astonished at the thought of ice
not pulled from the mouth of a machine?
Which parent will be the one to break
the myth; the Arctic wasn’t Sisyphus’s
snowy hill. Noah’s wife, I am wringing
my hands not knowing how to know
and move forward. Was it you
who gathered flowers once the earth
had dried? How did you explain the light
to all the animals?
(a poem by Maya C. Popa)
Swaying steadily in
spectral fans reflect
the turquoise light;
their mottled aura
straining spectra as
bleach branches and
Parasitic hues scar the surface,
lacerating living skeletons
with vibrant, polished purples;
their corrupting shadows
smeared across the ferns,
as copper-coloured paint
leaches from beneath a bow.
permeate the seascape,
their irregular vitality
piercing faded defences;
that rise without restraint.
(a poem by Sam Illingworth)
The thing about realism
is industry really means
extraction but extraction
now means extinction
so industry is code
for annihilation as in
code red baia mare
whereas your exxons
are no longer mechanical
but austere and financial
radiant nanotech vampire
forsake southern france
every asset code black
just a fire in the distance
when together we discover
in petroleum superbloom
that the world is mutable
seas become mulberry fields.
(a poem by Mark Steven)
The land is in a constant state of birth,
Giving life to all who live on Earth.
Our carelessness and fears
Have taken a toll over the years.
Her land is parched and scorched
As man continues to light the torch.
We continue a want of speed and ease,
All while our pesticides kill off our bees.
It’s time to wake up and see Mother Earth’s pain.
Humanity’s selfishness is becoming insane.
Soon her cries will turn to gloom,
And man will cause its own doom.
(a poem by Sophia E. Valdez)
So, what was your favorite poem? These artists are working hard to show everyone, through their poetry, the importance of urgent action against the real threats of global warming.
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For more global warming poems
If you like poems that discuss about climate change, maybe you will love this Amazon selection on global warming book.