Wilderness Poem from Ian Mccallum


Ian McCallum


Wilderness's friend, psychiatrist, wilderness guide and poet, Ian McCallum, has shared with us a poem he penned based on his experiences with us. Dr McCallum will also be reciting his poem for us live on our Facebook page on Tuesday 7 April at 17:00 SAST.


Wilderness by Ian McCallum

Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a pattern of soul
where every tree, every bird and beast
is a soul maker?


Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place
but a moving feast of stars,
footprints, scales and beginnings?


Since when
did we become afraid of the night
and that only the bright stars count?
or that our moon is not a moon
unless it is full?


By whose command
were the animals
Through groping fingers,
One for each hand,
Reduced to the big and little five?


Have we forgotten
That every creature is within us
carried by tides
of earthly blood
and that we named them?


Have we forgotten
that wilderness is not a place,
but a season
and that we are in its
final hour?



Ian McCallum is the author of two anthologies of wilderness poems: Wild Gifts (1999) and Untamed (2012), and a novel Thorns to Kilimanjaro (2000). His award-winning book Ecological Intelligence – Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature addresses the interconnectedness of all living things, and ultimately, the survival of the human animal. It was published in South Africa in 2005, and in the USA in 2009. It won the Wild Literary Award at the World Wilderness Congress in Mexico in 2009.

"This poem is for Ian Player. Internationally recognised for his work as a conservationist and naturalist, history will show that he ranks among the great visionaries of the wild. "

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