One of my favorite human emotions is the feeling of being awed by the beauty of this planet, so it’s no surprise that I have collected so many earth and nature honoring poems and quotes over the years. They bring about that joyful sense of sacredness and inter-connectedness and reverence, no matter where I am when reading the words. I think that’s why I love to include earth and nature honoring poems in weddings — these words have the ability to set a tone of reverence and sacredness for the entire ceremony.

I think the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address is a most beautiful, inclusive foundation for any ceremony or gathering. The full address can be quite long (and worth it) but this adaptation by Gary Snyder is just about perfect for a wedding ceremony. (Asked in an interview about religion and prayer, Gary Snyder said, “At the very least, you should say thank you.” Yes!) Keep in mind that you can always edit poems to better reflect your style. For example, in the poem/prayer below, I sometimes remove the words, “in our minds so be it.”

Prayer for the Great Family (after a Mohawk prayer)

Gratitude to Mother Earth, sailing through night and day—
and to her soil: rich, rare and sweet
                              in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Plants, the sun-facing, light-changing leaf
and fine root-hairs; standing still through wind
and rain; their dance is in the flowering spiral grain
                             in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Air, bearing the soaring Swift and silent
Owl at dawn. Breath of our song clear spirit breeze
                            in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Wild Beings, our brothers, teaching secrets,
freedoms, and ways; who share with us their milk;
self-complete, brave and aware
                            in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to Water: clouds, lakes, rivers, glaciers;
holding or releasing; streaming through all
our bodies salty seas
                          in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Sun: blinding pulsing light through
trunks of trees, through mists, warming caves where
bears and snakes sleep— he who wakes us—
                          in our minds so be it.

Gratitude to the Great Sky
who holds billions of stars— and goes yet beyond that—
beyond all powers, and thoughts
and yet is within us—Grandfather Space.
The Mind is his Wife.
                         so be it.

John O’Donohue is one of my favorite humans to ever have human-ed. His blessings and prayerful poems are so beautiful and inclusive.

In Praise of the Earth by John O’Donohue

Let us bless
The imagination of the Earth,
That knew early the patience
To harness the mind of time,
Waited for the seas to warm,
Ready to welcome the emergence
Of things dreaming of voyaging
Among the stillness of land.

And how light knew to nurse
The growth until the face of the Earth
Brightened beneath a vision of color.

When the ages of ice came
And sealed the Earth inside
An endless coma of cold,
The heart of the Earth held hope,
Storing fragments of memory,
Ready for the return of the sun.

Let us thank the Earth
That offers ground for home
And holds our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies.

Let us salute the silence
And certainty of mountains:
Their sublime stillness,
Their dream-filled hearts.

The wonder of a garden
Trusting the first warmth of spring
Until its black infinity of cells
Becomes charged with dream;
Then the silent, slow nurture
Of the seed’s self, coaxing it
To trust the act of death.

The humility of the Earth
That transfigures all
That has fallen
Of outlived growth.

The kindness of the Earth,
Opening to receive
Our worn forms
Into the final stillness.

Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth
For all our sins against her:
For our violence and poisonings
Of her beauty.

Let us remember within us
The ancient clay,
Holding the memory of seasons,
The passion of the wind,
The fluency of water,
The warmth of fire,
The quiver-touch of the sun
And shadowed sureness of the moon.

That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth
Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.

Joy Harjo is another one of my favorite humans, her words speak directly to my soul. Her poem “Remember” is one of the few poems I know by heart (also great for a ceremony) and this one below is pure beauty as well. Praise everything!

Praise the Rain by Joy Harjo

Praise the rain, the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk—
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity—
Praise the dark, the moon cradle
The sky fall, the bear sleep—
Praise the mist, the warrior name
The earth eclipse, the fired leap—
Praise the backwards, upward sky
The baby cry, the spirit food—
Praise canoe, the fish rush
The hole for frog, the upside-down—
Praise the day, the cloud cup
The mind flat, forget it all—

Praise crazy. Praise sad.
Praise the path on which we’re led.
Praise the roads on earth and water.
Praise the eater and the eaten.
Praise beginnings; praise the end.
Praise the song and praise the singer.

Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.

(For a wedding I’d really want to add one last line: Praise love; it brings more love. I mean… I think that sentiment is implied by Joy Harjo’s words, but sometimes it’s nice to just say it overtly.)

This next one is similar to the Thanksgiving Address. Not quite as concise as Gary Snyder’s interpretation, but so beautiful nonetheless.

Teach Us and Show Us the Way—Chinook Prayer originally written by David Whyte and edited by Fritz Hull

We call upon the earth, our planet home, with its beautiful depths and soaring heights, its vitality and abundance of life, and together we ask that it Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the mountains, the high green valleys and meadows filled with wild flowers, the snows that never melt, the summits of intense silence, and we ask that they Teach us, and show us the Way

We call upon the waters that rim the earth, horizon to horizon, that flow in our rivers and streams, that fall upon our gardens and fields and we ask that they Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the land which grows our food, the nurturing soil, the fertile fields, the abundant gardens and orchards, and we ask that they Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the forests, the great trees reaching strongly to the sky with earth in their roots and the heavens in their branches, the fir and the pine and the cedar, and we ask them to Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon the creatures of the fields and forests and the seas, our brothers and sisters the wolves and deer, the eagle and dove, the great whales and the dolphin, who share our home, and we ask them to Teach us, and show us the Way.

We call upon all those who have lived on this earth, our ancestors and our friends, who dreamed the best for future generations, and upon whose lives our lives are built, and with thanksgiving, we call upon them to Teach us, and show us the Way.

And lastly, we call upon all that we hold most sacred, the presence and power of the Great Spirit of love and truth which flows through all the Universe, to be with us to Teach us, and show us the Way.

The next three poems are short little things, but pack a big punch. I think there is a sweet humility to them, a simple supplication: Be. Here. Now.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn by Wu Men Hui-k’a, English version by Stephen Mitchell

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

What We Need Is Here by Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

Flowers by Lucille Clifton

here we are
running with the weeds
colors exaggerated
pistils wild
embarrassing the calm family flowers……oh……
here we are
flourishing for the field
and the name of the place
is Love

This last one feels like it would make a beautiful closing blessing for a wedding ceremony, one that brings a sense of the interconnectedness of everything.

Rejoice in life. A parting blessing – alfred v. fedak

Walk softly upon the earth.
May its beauty forever surround you,
its wonders forever astound you.

May its wisdom delight you,
its music invite you
to dance and to play and to sing.

May you love and be loved by all that you meet;
may you know and practice compassion.

Rejoice in the earth and in all of creation.

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of earth and nature honoring poems. Adding more beauty to your ceremony is always a good thing, and maybe you’re a bit more inspired now! For more collections of off the beaten path poems, take a look here and here.