From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Meditation at Lagunitas

Meditation at Lagunitas


by Robert Hass

Meditation at Lagunitas Theme of Man and the Natural World

This poem falls under the genre of the "pastoral," which means that it celebrates natural beauty. But, the speaker doesn’t just celebrate; he also uses the natural world as evidence against people who say that "general ideas" are more beautiful than particular things. He argues that the source of all desire is a search for particular things we have loved and lost, like the peaceful riverbank of his childhood. Poetry, he thinks, is the best way to connect man’s intellectual world with the singular mysteries of nature. Even the word "blackberry" can be like a poem in praise of nature.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Do you know of any other pastoral poems? How does Hass’s "Meditation at Lagunitas" compare?
  2. How do the very specific images of nature in the poem help the speaker’s argument about the value of "particulars" versus "general ideas?"
  3. What, if anything, does natural beauty have to do with physical and sexual desire? Can the two be separated?
  4. Are words a part of nature, or do they belong to some higher spiritual realm?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The poet uses the image of the "tragic" woodpecker to show the absurdity of the Platonic philosophy. It’s laughable to think that the woodpecker could relate in any way to our human ideas of tragedy.

Words are the link between the natural world of particulars and the intellectual world of ideas.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...