"Urbanatural Roosting" in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney
The Wordsworth Circle
Wordsworth's "Composed on Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802" links the energy of his greatest nature poems to England's largest urban space, a relationship that I explored in Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism: Toward Urbanatural Roosting (11-14).The goal of Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism was to overcome one of the surviving Enlightenment dualisms: the long-held distinction between nature and culture, the sense that one "thing" exists in the streets of central London (human culture) while something very different exists in the hills of the Lake District (wild nature). From the perspective of the urbanatural, this distinction is overcome: London is nature (with the same air, the same water, and soil as the wildest wilderness of Northern England) and the Lake District is also culture (at least insofar as the mountains "contain" culture once the first human arrives, once any human speaks or writes about them in any way). The naturalist in Gore-Tex clothing (a petroleum product) traveling to the wild coast of Cumbria in a carbon-belching bus or airplane creates a powerful contradiction similar to the urbanist who claims he has nothing to do with wild nature, all the while eating fresh salmon caught in the North Atlantic and drinking bottled water from the springs of Scotland. These contradictions are resolved by linking the human with the nonhuman, city life with natural life, by acknowledging that the nonhuman natural places and experiences contain the fully human, cultural places and experiences, while the human cultural places and experiences contain the natural. That is what I have called "urbanatural roosting," the subtitle of Beyond Romantic Ecocriticism.
Nichols, Ashton. "'Urbanatural Roosting" in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney." The Wordsworth Circle 47, no. 2 (2016): 100-104.