“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
– Lord Byron
Close your eyes and imagine being in the middle of nature. All is calm and you feel at one with the world around you. Now think, where did you travel in your mind? We often feel an urge to be surrounded by nature and enjoy its colours, sounds and smells. Green, blue, white or the colours of the rainbow, the natural world offers the palette of the best-equipped painter. We surround ourselves with scents of flowers and plants in our home, and you must have listened to relaxing natural sounds to find some inspiration. The natural world has inspired many artists, poets and writers, often leading them to live in secluded places and set up writing sheds somewhere out of the city. Think of the naturalist Henry David Thoreau, Romantic poets like William Wordsworth, Robert Frost, the poet who loved rural life; Jack London, whose fiction taught us about the wilderness; Ernest Hemingway, who took us on more adventures and Virginia Woolf, whose descriptions of the sea will stay with you forever. They all described the natural world in different ways, and they were all connected to it. Their depictions of their environment will definitely make you feel wanderlust and calm your mind at the same time.
Literary works about the natural world offer a wide range of genres. You can go on adventures with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, think about the theme of man versus nature in Robinson Crusoe or reflect upon living a simple life in natural surroundings with Thoreau. More recently we have also read novels about protecting the environment and modern day adventures. Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood depict a gloomy apocalyptic future after a biological catastrophe, Into the Wild and Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer let us experience the wilderness and Everest mountaineering through surprising situations. Although these stories seem gloomier than classic fiction novels about the natural world, their main objective is still to make us realise how vulnerable we are without nature and how important its role is in our lives. Another great example of this is The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch, bringing us with Charles Arrowby as he decides to move to a secluded house by the sea.
Sitting under a big tree, walking in the woods, climbing mountains, swimming in a lake or a sea are all activities which will relax your mind, help you unload heavy thoughts, relax your body and recharge you with energy and creative ideas. It seems that being in nature is one of the best cures for all our problems. A good tip is to leave your phone behind and enjoy these moments. Research also supports our feeling of the benefits of the natural world, encouraging us to start walking programmes.
How did walking inspire great authors? Here is an illustrated infographic on the New York Time website showing us Eight Writers and the Walks That Inspired Them. There are two books about the history and literature of walking, and both seem like fascinating reads. Check out The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, and Literature of Pedestrianism by Geoff Nicholson, and The Art of Wandering by Merlin Coverley.
Where would you like to go for a walk? Who would you like to go with? Take some time to enjoy the natural world, and when you come back to your bookshelf, grab a book inspired by nature. You can also prepare a list for your students and have themed lessons about nature and literature.
Here is our TOP 5 book list for language learners to help you.
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
- The Secret Garden by F. H. Burnett
- White Fang by Jack London
- The Call of the Wild by Jack London
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Here are 5 books for young learners.
- The Big Fire by Rick Sampedro
- The Big Wave by Stefanelli Ebhardt
- Sam and the Sunflower Seeds Maria Cleary
- The Thirsty Tree by Adrián N. Bravi
- Lost on the Coast by Rick Sampedro
Read more about the natural world on our Blog: