Field of Science

Moss Poetry

Mosses also serve as poetry muses. This poem was brought to my attention during discussions of my blog in my Science Communication Seminar. I think that it is a great verse and presents vivid imagery of moss. Enjoy!

Moss-Gathering by Theodore Roethke
To loosen with all ten fingers held wide and limber
And lift up a patch, dark-green, the kind for lining cemetery baskets,

Thick and cushiony, like an old-fashioned doormat,

The crumbling small hollow sticks on the underside mixed with roots,

And wintergreen berries and leaves still stuck to the top,—
That was moss-gathering
.
But something always went out of me when I dug loose those carpets

Of green, or plunged to my elbows in the spongy yellowish moss
of the marshes:
And afterwards I always felt mean, jogging back over the logging road,
As if I had broken the natural order of things in that swampland;
Disturbed some rhythm, old and of vast importance,

By pulling off flesh from the living planet;

As if I had committed, against the whole scheme of life, a desecration.

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