A Rule for Writers
While pondering the many useful rules put forth in Strunk and White’s little volume The Elements of Style, I encountered this short commentary on the word nature:
Nature should be avoided in such vague expressions as “a lover of nature,” “poems about nature.” Unless more specific statements follow, the reader cannot tell whether the poems have to do with natural scenery, rural life, the sunset, the untracked wilderness, or the habits of squirrels.
Having great respect for the authors, I thought I might change the title of my forthcoming book of poems and essays, Nature is my Muse. I then realized that the junior author of The Elements of Style, E. B. White, also penned the beloved children’s classics Charlotte’s Web, and Stuart Little. Both books are generally placed in the broad category of nature literature.
Without apology, I have decided that my book will retain its title, and I leave the potential reader with an assurance. Will the included poems and essays have to do with “natural scenery, rural life, the sunset, or the habits of squirrels?” Yes they will. They might even have to do with that Cardinal I hear singing as I sit on the porch and type this brief posting.