Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, GATHERING GREENS, by PHILIP BOOTH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

GATHERING GREENS, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Gathering Greens" is a poem written by Philip Booth, an American poet born in 1925. The poem was first published in 1970 in Booth's collection "Lifelines: Selected Poems 1950-1969." It celebrates the beauty of nature and the joy of foraging for food in the wild.


The poem begins with the speaker and their companions leaving the "busy roads" behind and venturing into the forest to gather greens. As they move deeper into the woods, they become more aware of the natural world around them, observing the "ferns unrolling" and the "buds unfolding."

The act of gathering greens is presented as a way of connecting with nature and appreciating its beauty. The speaker describes the taste of the plants they collect as "fresh and cool," and the grassy water that accompanies them as "green and clear."

The poem ends with the group returning home, their baskets full of greens, and the speaker reflecting on the experience. The final lines suggest that the act of foraging has connected the speaker to the natural world in a meaningful way.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: "Gathering Greens" is a free-verse poem with no set rhyme scheme or meter.
  • Imagery: The poem is full of sensory details, such as the "green and clear" water and the taste of the "fresh and cool" greens.
  • Personification: The ferns and buds are given human qualities, as they are described as "unrolling" and "unfolding."
  • Metaphor: The act of foraging is compared to a journey into the heart of the forest.
  • Tone: The tone of the poem is celebratory and joyful, as the speaker revels in the beauty of nature and the pleasures of foraging.


"Gathering Greens" is a beautiful celebration of nature and the joy of foraging for food in the wild. The poem's sensory imagery and personification of the natural world make it feel alive, and the act of foraging is presented as a way of connecting with nature in a meaningful way. Booth's poem is a reminder of the beauty and importance of the natural world and the joy that can be found in even the simplest of activities.

Poem Snippet:


"We leave the busy roads behind us

and into the woods we go

to gather greens in quiet

among the ferns unrolling."


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