Lax’s Gently Satirical Take on Nature Poets

Page 243 of Pure Act talks mostly about the publication of Robert Lax’s second book, New Poems, where poems in his new, more experimental style first appeared , and his departure for a new life in Greece that same year, 1962.  Near the end of the page, though, I write: “His formal goodbye, you might say, to the life he’d been living and the lyrical way he’d been writing was a gently satirical poem called ‘Ah! The Nature Poets,’ published in the journal Approaches.”

When my book was edited for publication, that poem ended up on the cutting-room floor.  So here it is, in “print” for the first time in 50 years.  As page 243 says,”Nature would be central to many of Lax’s future poems, but it would be the simple nature of the Greek Islands rendered in even simpler verse.”


Ah! The Nature Poets

by Robert Lax


Ah! the nature poets—

Who can be tipped over

by a butterfly,

Who can swim for miles,

In a corolla filled with dew,

Whom lakes intoxicate,

whom mountains overcome:

Gaspers at the fallen leaf,

And eulogizers of the bird;

The far-flung white cloud’s

closest friends;

The thunder’s citizens,

The lightning’s fans:

Lovers of rain,

and of the changing seasons;

Cartographers of tracery in snow,

Breaking the first thin ice

Of the barn-yard foot-print:



Gazers after deer;

As tireless as Nature is,

To whose long strings they’re tied;

And as importunate in praise

As she’s preoccupied.

(Used with permission of the Robert Lax Literary Trust.  All rights reserved.)