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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > The Evolution of the Conservation Movement

[Detail] The Harvest Moon. Currier & Ives, between 1860 and 1870.

Descriptive Writing | Persuasive Argument | Journal Writing

1) Descriptive Writing

Sunset (California Scenery); L. Prang & Co., 1864.

Sunset (California Scenery); L. Prang & Co., 1864.

This collection features fine examples of descriptive writing on travel, scenery, and nature topics. Students can review examples of descriptive writing in the collection, then try their hand at writing a description of a trip, scenic area, or natural element from their own experience.

For example, in the 1908 book The Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp, students can find lyrical descriptions of nature such as:

Chapter I: The Muskrats Are Building

(page 1) We have had a series of long, heavy rains, and water is standing over the swampy meadow. It is a dreary stretch, this wet, sedgy land in the cold twilight, drearier than any part of the woods or the upland pastures. They are empty, but the meadow is flat and wet, naked and all unsheltered. And a November night is falling.

The darkness deepens. A raw wind is rising. At nine o┬ąclock the moon swings round and full to the crest of the ridge, and pours softly over. I button the heavy ulster close, and in my rubber boots go down to the river and follow it out to the middle of the meadow, where it meets the main ditch at the sharp turn toward the swamp. Here at the bend, behind a clump of black alders, I sit quietly down and wait. I am not mad, nor melancholy; I am not after copy. Nothing is the matter with me. I have come out to the bend to watch the muskrats building, for that small mound up the ditch is not an old haycock, but a half-finished muskrat house.

Search on essay, nature writing, travel, and wildlife to find examples of descriptive writing.