Study Guide

if everything happens that can't be done Man vs. the Natural World

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Man vs. the Natural World

(and buds know better
than books
don't grow) (11-13)

Here, we see the speaker's preference for nature. Flower buds not only grow, they know better than books. Well we're not sure what we've ever learned about math and physics from flower buds, but they sure can teach just as well as a book about the beauty of this world.

so world is a leaf so a tree is a bough (19)

The speaker uses images from nature to demonstrate his ideas of oneness. The world can be summed up in just one leaf, or a tree in a single bough. Of course, this isn't really true, but it shows us that the speaker feels as if the whole world is together, is one.

(and birds sing sweeter
than books
tell how) (20-22)

These are the lines that most nature lovers would probably choose to quote from this poem. But we at Shmoop think, why not go outside and listen to the birds sing while you're reading a book? Birds might sing sweeter, but books are still pretty cool too. You can get the best of both worlds.

we're anything brighter than even the sun (37)

The sun is the root of a lot of nature. We actually couldn't live without it. It fuels our whole world. So it's pretty cool to think that "we," who is meant to be the lovers in this poem, are brighter than the sun. While we don't think that love alone could light the world, it sure can in this poem.

(with a spin
alive we're alive) (42-44)

Though there's nothing specific that tells us that we're in nature, spinning and leaping and feeling alive are all things that we do outside. In fact, we think our speaker would argue that being outside makes you feel more alive than anything else you could do.

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