Our reading of the Transcendentalists and other nature writers inspired a number of us to write poetry.

In Spring 2006, the Transcendentalist Travelers wrote a pass-around poem inspired by Emily Dickinson.

Read poems by the following folks: Agi, Beverlee, Deidre, Deirdre, Jenn, Jeremy, Liz, Lizzie, Paul, Sarah, Stacey, and TC.



Summer Attraction
Paul Kelley

I passed over a river on my way to work.
The ice was but newly formed.
The wind was whipping through the trees;
Yet no snow was to be seen on the ground.
I drive along thinking of the sun.
Summer is once again on my mind.
The wind is warmer and the days aren’t chilled.
The grass is green and the river flows freely.
During these precious few months of warmth,
I like to spend a lot of time on the water.
I twist and turn through the swift flow.
I row and row until my energy is gone.
Still, the beauty of the scene entices me.
I want to be there, feel a part of nature.
I want to be a part of that living beauty,
To feel the sun caress my face and arms.
How can one ever be happier than here?
What peaceful feelings, what overwhelming contentment.

Is it because it is but brief that I enjoy it?
No, it is nature’s timeless attraction to me.

I wrote this when I crossed an ice-covered river on my way to work. I had been focusing on the cold, but the beauty of the scene got me thinking about summertime and one of my favorite pastimes, kayaking.



Paul Kelley

What lies beyond?
What haven’t I seen?
We’ve got it all.
We’ve conquered everything.
I still say there’s more.
I still say remains unseen,
Whether I be wrong.
Whether it’s just a dream.

How do you know?
How could you think
We’ve run our course?
We’ve just reached the brink.
Our hunger is eternal.
Our need just won’t slow.
And so we’ll look deeper,
And knowledge will grow.
Knowledge is blissful, yet
Knowledge needs kept in hand.
Lest we think to grow careless,
Lest we destroy with our plans.



The Shepherd Tune
Paul Kelley

Walking and watching,
Looking to see.
Spend days, spend hours–
A melody so free,
A thought so remote,
A fanciful tune.
Oh Shenandoah
I long to see you.
The waters they fall.
Sometimes they just run.
I’d like to join;
With nature be one.
I look at the stream,
The path it holds to.
Oh Shenandoah
I long to see you.
My time will pass.
My course will be done.
Should I look back?
Say, “how fast it’s gone.”
No, not if I rise,
And reach that view
Where, Oh Shenandoah
I can see you.




Out Emily’s Window
TC Williams

Nature’s playful Apron strings –
White linen graced with Lilies –
Mother’s delicate handiwork,
Trimmed with
Bridal Lace

Wafting – weightless – on a breeze,
Peridot ambition –
Sun-kissed Laughter – skips ahead –
The Annual

Traded for an Overcoat –
Grey flannel – overworn –
Drowsy – ends her daydream,
And sights a Winter storm.

Right: Sarah Alouf as Emily Dickinson (photo by TC Williams).




A poem inspired by Emily Dickinson
Deidre Schaefer

Caught in a Trap –
devised of her own Mind –
a Foot – gnawed off –
the Fox leaves behind

If a Rabbit, forlorn Foot
be a symbol of Luck –
yet instead truly shows
Fox’s Resourcefulness and Pluck

Crippled Vixen! Wave proud
severed Foot – hard-earned Experience!
Lament not Rabbit’s Loss –
Naïve Innocence



Mrs. Beetle’s Plight
Lizzie Lowe

Tripping across dead grass,
head down, antennae sifting winter’s debris,
warmth beckons from an underground hearth.
The entranceway narrowed by protruding shoots of spring
will not deter this resolute soul.
Constricted, she squeezes her shell body into the root cellar.


Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Lizzie Lowe

Did you see me coming close?
Did you feel my heartbeat?
Did I touch your soul with mine?
We tasted the snow together, and
I know I heard you call to me.
“Rest in Peace,” I answer.


Poems Inspired by Frederick Douglass
Sarah Alouf

NOTE: These poems were written in response to Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, in the style of my favorite type of poetry, the Kokinshu. This work is a collection of very short Japanese poems. Each poem is 5 lines long, and the syllable pattern is 5-7-5-7-7. There are no titles.

In response to Douglass’s description of his grandmother:
I worked all my life,
though my children were taken
and my husband killed.
My reward finally comes –
Death alone in a cabin.

In response to Sophia Auld, Douglass’s master:
Once a face beaming,
a compassionate teacher,
but ignorance gripped you –
Now a hard-hearted mistress,
Your husband’s hate, magnified.

In tribute to Harriet Tubman:
The conductor comes,
and we all call her Moses,
but he did it once.
She parts the Red Sea for us,
returns to do it again.

In response to Douglass’s quote about slaves singing:
We pick the cotton
and sing ’til our throats are dry.
Our master is pleased,
thinking that we are happy.
At least in song we are free.


“American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide” was produced by students in ENGL 446, American Transcendentalism, and ENGL 447, American Literature and the Prominence of Place: A Travel Practicum. These courses were team-taught in the Department of English at Shepherd College (now Shepherd University), Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Spring 2002 by Dr. Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda Tate. For more information on the course and the web project, visit “About This Site.” © 2003 Linda Tate.