Imagining the Earth
Poetry and the Vision of Nature

John Elder
Second Edition

Poetry as a window into our environmental consciousness


"Forcefully written . . . Imagining the Earth is a clear-headed, deeply-felt meditation on nature, poetry, and human community."
Hollins Critic

"Justly recognized as a pioneer work of ecocriticism, Elder's Imagining the Earth unquestionably remains one of the most intellectually venturesome contributions to this fast-growing field."
—Lawrence Buell, author of The Environmental Imagination

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A landmark work in the burgeoning field of literary ecology, Imagining the Earth explores the ways in which our attitudes toward nature are mirrored in and influenced by poetry. In the work of some of our most widely read poets, says John Elder, one can discern a resurgent vision of humanity in harmony with the rest of the natural order.

To show us the power of poetry to identify, interpret, and celebrate a wide range of issues related to nature and our place in it, Elder uses numerous examples of works by Gary Snyder, Wendell Berry, A. R. Ammons, Denise Levertov, and William Everson. Elder places these poets within a cultural tradition flowing from William Wordsworth through Alfred North Whitehead, T. S. Eliot, and Robinson Jeffers, and uses their poems to illuminate the relationships between culture and wilderness, imagination and landscape, and science and poetry. Elder's commentaries are interlinked with two remarkable essays in which he describes his own moments of recognition with nature--moments engendered by, and in turn engendering, meditations on literature.

This new edition, which marks the first appearance of Imagining the Earth in paperback, includes a revised introduction and an additional concluding chapter that focuses on the poetry of Mary Oliver and bridges the decade since the book was first published in 1985.

Page count: 264 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $28.95

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John Elder is Stewart Professor of English and Environmental Studies at Middlebury College. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Reading the Mountains of Home and Nature Writing (coedited with Robert Finch).