The Noble Nature by B Johnson is a poem that uses the metaphor and imagery of nature to describe what noble nature and beauty truly are.
The Noble Nature is a short poem and it lacks many poetic devices and a proper structure. It does not tell a story, but what it does is it describes a fact in a very simple and direct way.
The poem can also be seen as a philosophy and a way of life that teaches a very powerful and important lesson. Let’s take a look at the poem and then at its meaning.
The Noble Nature by B Johnson
It is not growing like a tree In bulk, doth make man better be; Or standing long an oak, three hundred year, To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere: A lily of a day Is fairer far in May, Although it fall and die that night— It was the plant and flower of Light. In small proportions we just beauties see; And in short measures life may perfect be.
Simplification of the Poem
It is not like to grow like a tree
that makes a man better
Or be strong and live a life for hundreds of years
to just fall down without any life, any love or beauty.
A lily that just lives for a day
And dies the same night it
The beauty of the plant makes up for its short life
We see beauty in small proportions
And if we live in moments, life can be perfect.
Meaning and Analysis of The Noble Nature
The Noble Nature is a poem about how the little things make a much bigger and deeper impact than larger things. The ocean is made of drops and our pursuit in becoming the ocean is what leads to disappointment.
The poet talks about how making small improvements matter rather than trying to become something completely different all at once.
He uses the metaphor of trees and compares it with a small lily flower. He says that growing better is not like growing a tree; changes in large quantities or working for years.
It is not growing like a tree
In bulk, doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
All of this results in the person becoming dry, dull, and devoid of life. There is no beauty in such ways. So a noble deed is not to think and plan for the welfare of the entire world.
You do not need to do large things or plan for it to become noble. Instead of growing large and old like a tree, take a look at a small lily flower.
The lily flower grows and lives for a day. But on that day, it becomes the flower of light. It makes the entire surrounding beautiful and fragrant. Noble nature should be cultivated like this.
A lily of a day
Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night—
It was the plant and flower of Light.
We do not think much about decades, centuries, or millennia. What matters the most is the moment. The present moment is the most important moment and everything should be done for that.
Coming to the most important part of the poem; the last two lines deliver the most meaning and have the philosophy of life in them.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.
The poet says that in only small proportions can we understand beauty and appreciate it because that is how the human mind works.
If we look at life in its entirety, it might depress us to see how difficult it can get. But in short measures or moments, life can be perfect.
That perfect vacation, or that perfect day spent with friends, or the beautiful date with your loved one that made life feel perfect. All of these things lift you up and make you feel happier.
These small moments make life much better and once we stop thinking about the entire life and just notice these small ‘lily’ moments, we start noticing how perfect life can be.
This is the philosophy of the poem and the message the poet wants to give us. From cultivating good values, habits, and collecting moments, everything can be done in small, graspable moments.
If you aim to achieve everything at once, you will end up dry, dull, and devoid of life. Do not aim to be the tall and old tree, but aim to make everyday like the short-lived yet beautiful lily flower.