Friday, April 22, 2016

J. Patrick Lewis: My Earth Day Guest

Happy Earth Day!

Veronica: A Small Gift from Earth
Photo by Amy LV

It is with great pleasure that I introduce my guest blogger today, former US Children's Poet Laureate (2011 - 2013)  and winner of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Award fpr Excellence in Poetry for Children...J. Patrick Lewis.

Take it away, sir!

J. Patrick Lewis
Photo by Robert Donaldson

As April is World Habitat Awareness Month as well as National Poetry Month, I thought I’d combine the two themes in one poem.

In fact, this poem, Make the Earth Your Companion, is the title of a gorgeous forthcoming book from Creative Editions, 2017. (I’ve seen the art by Anna and Elena Balbusso, sisters from Italy.) So I'm delighted Amy has given me a chance to share it pre-publication.

Make the Earth Your Companion

Make the Earth your companion.                    
Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do.
Let the Sky paint her beauty—she is always
                  watching over you.
Learn from the Sea how to face harsh forces.
Let the River remind you that everything will pass.
Let the Lake instruct you in stillness.
Let the Mountain teach you grandeur.
Make the Woodland your house of peace.
Make the Rainforest your house of hope.
Meet the Wetland on twilight ground.
Save some small piece of Grassland for a red kite
                  on a windy day.
Watch the Icecaps glisten with crystal majesty.
Hear the Desert whisper hush to eternity.
Let the Town weave a small basket of togetherness.
Make the Earth your companion.
Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do. 

© J. Patrick Lewis

If I’m asked to say what is the first thing to do if you want to be a poet, it’s simply this: Be a reader. Never trust anyone who writes more than she or he reads. (Thanks to Samuel Johnson for that quote over 200 years ago.)

Start every day with a poem—and end it with a poem. 

Read poetry out loud, even if you are all alone in a room.

  • Poetry is song. Poetry predates books and the alphabet. 
  • Reading good poetry aloud resonates through your entire body.
Imitate other poets.
  • Imitation is not plagiarism. Remember: You are not writing for publication; you are writing for practice.
  • Choose your favorite poems and write parodies of them.

Thank you so much, Pat, for joining us today.  It is a privilege to share this space with you and a delight to read your wise and beautiful poem celebrating our planet.

Jama is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup over at Jama's Alphabet Soup with a beautiful and delicious celebration of one of my favorite new books.  Enjoy all of the offerings, and please join in as you wish!

I will be back later today with Wallow in Wonder 22!

And in the meantime, in celebration of Earth Day, I am hosting an Earth Day giveaway of FOREST HAS A SONG on Twitter.  Please find me there at @amylvpoemfarm to enter.


Please share a comment below if you wish.


  1. Inspiring post and interview. That's a beautiful poem and a perfect choice for Earth Day. I can't wait for the new book.

  2. A perfect way to start Earth Day! Thank you, Amy, and J. Patrick Lewis. This line particularly calls to me: "Meet the Wetland on twilight ground" - gorgeous.

  3. Happy Earth Day! What a beautiful celebratory poem! Thank you, Amy & J. Patrick Lews.

  4. Gorgeous, inspiring, vivid, lyrical poem -- would not expect anything less from Pat. So looking forward to his new book! Happy Earth Day!

  5. What a perfect poem for Earth Day--Thanks, Pat and Amy!

  6. I imagine this coming book will be a joy, Amy. Thanks for sharing the lovely poem. I do try to "walk lightly". Happy Earth Day!

  7. What wise, beautiful words. I especially love "Let the river remind you that everything will pass."
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. I think I'll start and end every day with THIS poem. Thank you for sharing, Pat and Amy.

  9. I shared this as my Poetry Friday (in the classroom) introduction/minilesson poem, and I didn't even have a chance to say that it's not really new, it's the introduction poem to the National Geographic Nature Poems collection -- Robby was already taking the dust jacket off the book (the poem he was going to share came from that book) and showing the class that it's printed on the back of the hardcover. Proof: my kids know that book inside and out!!

    As I read it, I thought of my former student who MEMORIZED it -- it was a poem that helped her through some hard times.

    Thank you, Pat, and thank you, Amy LV, for this poem on this day!

  10. Our greeting this week during Morning Meeting has been "Good Morning, Fellow Earthling," and we've varied it with this and that, including adding a place or feature of earth: "Good morning,Fellow Earthling, from the mountain." I wish I had found this poem on the back of the hardcover to share! Looking forward to J. Pat's collection, and thanking Wonderopolis and you, Amy, for a poem that gets inside the foster care system.

  11. Oh yes! I wish I had had this poem to be part of our "Hello, Fellow Earthling" greeting this week! Looking forward to Pat's new collection and thanking you, Amy, for going inside the heart of the foster care system.

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed your poem, Pat. This is my favorite line:
    Let the River remind you that everything will pass.

    I grew up in Colorado and spent many hours sitting by the river. I loved playing in it with my sisters, but it served another purpose. Whenever I was in trouble, sad, worried, etc. I would sit by the river and listen. It was calming. I'd toss in stones to hear the splash and toss in sticks to watch them float away. I always felt better. Now I know why!
    ~Let the River remind you that everything will pass.~

    Thanks for sharing Pat's poem, Amy.