National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! (2015), edited by J. Patrick Lewis, is a collection of classic and contemporary poems that celebrate the variety of life and landscapes on Earth. You'll find poems about a number of natural heritage sites here, including the Great Barrier Reef, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Galápagos: Hood Island, and more. Here are two poems about natural heritage sites outside the United States.
The oldest and deepest lake on Earth,
Lake Baikal, in the south of the Russian
region of Siberia, holds a fifth of the planet's
If Earth could fit within your cupped hands,
and the lands slipped free between the fingers,
and the skies' blue released between the thumbs,
and the oceans' tears seeped along your arms,
then you hold the planet's water in your palm.
Lift it to your lips. Sip that primal fresh.
And that crazed marble, that sapphire cat's-eye
in the rivulet that crosses your creased flesh?
That is Lake Baikal: frozen time.
Gaze into the blue. That glint?
It's Earth's beginning
staring back at you.
Poem © Michael J. Rosen. All rights reserved.
Wonder Down Under
Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia
I'm know around the rockin' world by many,
enchanted by my ruddy, wrinkled dome.
But neighbors of my ilk? I don't have any.
The harsh and empty outback is my home.
My power is mysterious and mythic.
My people, the Anangu, understand
that I am more than simply monolithic—
I am a huge Australian rock star in the sand.
And though I love your awe and admiration,
applaud me from a distance if you will.
I'm big enough for long range observation,
and I can guarantee you'll get a thrill.
In photos or in person you will gawk,
even if you'r not a fan of rock.
Poem © Ted Scheu. All rights reserved.
A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme (2002), written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Alison Jay, is a collection of poems about explorers, places on the map (Sandwich Islands, Italy, Angel Falls, Mount Everest etc.), the globe itself (latitude v. longitude, equator and the poles), earth science topics (aurora borealis, San Andreas fault, stalactites v. stalagmites), and many other things. This is a terrific book for introducing a mix of geography topics, as well as science topics like biomes, ecology and natural resources. The poem below is actually a shape poem that was hard to reproduce here, so be sure to click the image above to see what it's meant to look like.
3,212 feet tall
t h e
w o r l d ' s
t a l l e s t
t h u n d e r -
s h o w e r !
Poem ©J. Patrick Lewis, 2002. All rights reserved.
Lady Liberty: A Biography (2008), written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares, is a collection of free verse poems that tells the story of the project that eventually saw the completion of the Statue of Liberty, a project that stretched over 20 years and took place on two continents.
Publisher, New York World
New York City, August 1886
Liberty's skeleton is now anchored
to the pedestal,
bolted to huge girders
that protrude from the concrete.
Eighty-nine feet tall, twenty feet thick,
and faced with granite,
the pedestal is more majestic than I had hoped.
I am humbled by my readers' generosity.
Many who have so little gave so much
to build this noble structure.
Liberty arrived in 214 crates.
On her trip across the ocean,
vicious storms buffeted the ship.
Labels fell off crates.
Pieces of her copper skin were shaken.
Many need to be reshaped.
Slowly each copper sheet
is hoisted up with heavy ropes.
The workers sit on the crossbars,
fitting her copper skin to the skeleton.
When one piece doesn't fit,
they haul up another and try it,
until they find the right one.
The first piece of copper skin attached
to the skeleton is name "Bartholdi."
The second piece is christened "Pulitzer."
Each day she grows more beautiful.
I predict that those who once mocked her
will soon love her and understand
her power and significance.
Poem ©Doreen Rappaport, 2008. All rights reserved.
An Old Shell: Poems of the Galapagos (1999), written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Tom Pohrt, is a collection of 34 poems (most written in free verse, though a few are written in haiku) in which Johnston pays tribute to the wonder that is the Galapagos. The book opens with a two-page map of the islands. The poem topics include the sea, the islands, animals, plants, and more.
The Birth of Fernandina Island
One molten morning
in sprays of sparks,
plumes of smoke,
from the sea's crucible
with a great hiss
to make this terrible
Nesting, Genovesa Island
Watch the white petals
of fluttering gulls brush the
stone face of the cliff.
Poems ©Tony Johnston, 1999. All rights reserved.
Before double-ninth day, my measure was taken
in a single sitting, so sure were Lao Bi’s
eye and hand. The tenth month I returned
with armoured vest and spear and struck a pose
that pleased him so much he laughed out loud
and threw his wineskin at my feet.
He called me the youngest of the Immortals
and promised me a place in the glory-line.
The likeness was uncanny, not just the face,
but the way the sleeves bunched up at the wrists,
studs and fluted leather of the shoulder-pads.
I was drawn to it again and again as if by magic.
One day, without warning, we left for the frontier
and I felt a greater reluctance
to part with this pottery replica of myself
than I had in taking leave of my own village.
Bi used to slap me on the back and say,
you’re too serious to be a soldier.
Poems ©Gary Geddes. All rights reserved.
You can read additional poems at BBC Radio 4: Terracotta Army.
If you are interested in the World Heritage sites highlighted in these poems, you'll find them at the links below.