The Rainforest is a three-verse poem by Australian poem Judith Wright. It is ideal for use in rainforest projects and of particular relevance to years five, six and beyond. It can be used as a stimulus for art or for discussion in a PSHE-context of conservation and the threat to our planet.
Whilst, on the surface, there are descriptions of life in the rainforest, there is plenty of implied meaning beneath and enough ambiguous phrases to get young people talking. It is also an excellent example of the concise use of language; just how much can be said in so few words.
This is how the poem begins:
The forest drips and glows with green.
The tree-frog croaks his far-off song.
His voice is stillness, moss and rain
drunk from the forest ages long.
According to Poem Hunter website, Judith Wright was a prolific Australian poet, critic, and short-story writer, who published more than 50 books. She was an uncompromising environmentalist and social activist campaigning for Aboriginal land rights. She believed that the poet should be concerned with national and social problems. Even at the age of 85, just before her death, she attended in Canberra at a march for reconciliation with Aboriginal people.
Here is an unusual video treatment of the poem using synthesised music:
Possible activities using this poem
Use the poem as a stimulus for artwork. Create the environment which Judith Wright is so passionate about.
Discuss the future of the rainforest. Which animals live there? Why is it under threat? How do we rely on the rainforest? Write letters to powerful people expressing your concern for the rainforest.
Tease out the meaning of key words and phrases from the poem:
“unless we move into his dream”. What is his dream? How can we move into it?
“where all is one and one is all”. What does this mean in a global sense? How would we think about the world if we adopted this approach?
“our quick dividing eyes”. What does this mean? Why are we quick? What do we divide?
“the forest burns”. Investigate why this is happening. What is Judith Wright saying about the rainforest here?
This poem appears in the excellent collection, Best Poems on the Underground. You may have seen it on your travels around London.