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For National Poetry Month, Enjoy Literature on Trail

Posted by Francakes at Apr 14, 2015 09:55 AM |
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Olympic National Park and the North Olympic Library System will be helping inspire some thoughtful moments on-trail by offering a second season of poetry walks. Plus, six suggested poetry volumes for creating your own poetry walks anywhere.

Some of the best moments in the outdoors can be just sitting in camp at the end of the day and reading. Olympic National Park and the North Olympic Library System will be helping inspire some thoughtful moments on-trail by offering a second season of poetry walks.

Poems have been placed on signs along the Living Forest Trail, the Madison Creek Falls, the Peabody Creek Trail and Spruce Railroad Trail. Featured poets include Emily Brontë, Carlos Castaneda, Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein and Gary Snyder.

Library manager Noah Glaude said the program offers a new way to explore familiar trails. “It causes you to think about your surroundings,” he said. “You might read a poem and then reflect on it as you continue along the trail.”

Barbara Maynes, public information officer for Olympic National Park, agrees. "Poetry in the parks (and other art forms as well) can help people see their surroundings in new ways, can offer inspiration and give people new ways to connect with their parks."

The poems will be on display until June 14. If you take a poetry walk, be sure to file a trip report and share your experience.

Poetry to bring on your next hike

Even if you’re not visiting one of these trails, you can create your own poetry walks by bringing some along with you. And you don’t have to worry about adding a lot to your pack weight.

Leave your Collected Emerson and fully annotated Leaves of Grass at home and grab one of these more lightweight volumes to meditate on while you sit beside an alpine lake or wherever else you might rest your weary feet.

Field Work by Seamus Heaney

“My two hands are plumbed water. / You are my palpable, lithe / Otter of memory / In the pool of the moment.”



You Are Not Dead by Wendy Xu

“Most things want to be / around other majestic things that make / noise or beauty. Wind plucks a flower / for sailing. You stand there in the presence / of whatever you are not.”



Wild Iris by Louise Glück

“didn't the night end, wasn't the earth \ safe when it was planted / / didn't we plant the seeds, / weren't we necessary to the earth, / the vines, were they harvested?”



The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda

“... I came / lavish, at autumns coronation, with the leaves’ / proffer of currency--and between spring and wheat ears-- / that which a boundless love, caught like a gauntlet fall, / grants us like a long-fingered moon.”


The Trees, the Trees by Heather Christle

“every day many things do not happen / a perfect love a perfect winter you don't fail /once you keep failing just when you think / you've got it right        arrives some spring”



The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse translated by Red Pine

“an oriole sings from a sapling, / briefly enjoying the season / joyfully singing out its heart / true happiness is right here / why chase an empty name”



Share your favorites

Have a favorite poem or collection that you take with you when you hike? We'd love to hear about them.  share them in the comments below!




"A billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that will be,
when all those stars are dead."

Buddha in Glory, by Rainier Maria Rilke.
I recite this audibly at night, outside my tent, while watching the stars.


I also enjoy Mary Oliver's poems when out on the trails.

Posted by:

Mr. Blue Sky on Apr 14, 2015 11:09 AM

A new book on finding ourselves on the trail

A friend is launching her newest book of trail inspired poetry. Step Into Nature

Posted by:

Oldwhiner on Apr 14, 2015 12:26 PM

Poets on the Peaks

A good book to read on the subject is, "POETS on the PEAKS" by John Suiter. It covers Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Jack Kerouac who wrote while Forest Service forest fire lookouts in the 1950's in the North Cascades at Crater Mtn., Sourdough Mtn, Sauk Mtn. and Desolation Peak. The book inspired me to hikes to each of the four lookouts. They all have great views. The lookout cabins are still on Sourdough and Desolation. George

Posted by:

George & Sally on Apr 14, 2015 01:26 PM


"Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you."

"Lost" by David Wagoner

Posted by:

MaryToo on Apr 15, 2015 03:12 PM