Poets, writers and philosophers have always described and celebrated nature, one of the greatest and most exciting sources of inspiration. Why is it that since humanity began to move around the planet, the forms of nature have begun to be represented, first with images, like the cave paintings found in the Altamira caves in Spain and then with words? The answer is in the magical vastness of nature, which gives inspiration even with just a sunrise or a rainy day, the observation of a landscape, an animal or a simple walk in a forest, we could go on forever!

Since ancient times, the world of animals has “spoken” through poems and stories: the Greek writer Aesop composed moral fables giving many animals a precise character, which over time and through other narratives have become fixed in the imagination of readers. Who would not think to associate the fox with cunning? After Aesop many fairy tales and novels have shown the fox as a shrewd and cunning thief, and even in a Walt Disney cartoon, Robin Hood is pictured  as a fox. The ant has always been a symbol of industriousness, while the tiger populates tales associated with fear for its feral unpredictability and its natural cruelty. Rudyard Kipling described it as one of the most beautiful and dangerous characters in his Jungle Book, while the romantic poet William Blake dedicated a poem to it, The Tyger, admiring its wild and indomitable nature. Here as he describes the eyes of the tiger: «In what distant deeps or skies/ burnt the fire of thine eyes?/ On what wings dare he aspire?/ What the hand dare seize the fire?»

Many scientific journals have recently drawn attention to the importance of walking in the middle of nature, of appreciating its silence, colors and the ability to convey positive feelings. The poems of the romantic poet William Wordsworth, for example, show the natural beauty in the description of a quiet landscape reflected on a lake. But if a lake inspires a sense of peace, the grandeur and restlessness of an ocean show the turbulence and power of natural forces. William Shakespeare used a natural element like the Tempest to tell a story of magic, pain and forgiveness, while in the tragedy Macbeth, a forest becomes a  talking place, windy, alive and wild.

We must never forget that this magical world that has been told for hundreds of centuries is endless, but we must also keep in mind that it has many limits if we do not preserve it, if we do not treat it with the same attention and passion with which writers and poets have told it. In this way we also can write our page, our poem and our song about the natural world, to make it eternal.

TO GO FURTHER

In Rudyard Kipling’s novel The Jungle Book the character is a boy, Mowgli, but the real protagonists are the animals. The book could be useful to identify the characteristics of each animal according to its “personality” as seen by humans (the wolf pack, the panther, the bear, the tiger, the monkeys…). In pairs or in groups choose in the novel one or more animal characters, look for their real characteristics in the animal world (their habits, if they are predators and where they live) and make a comparison with the personality that is transmitted by literature.