poetry of birds

Thanks to the generosity (and imagination!) of a Land Library supporter, a few times each year we receive a shipment from an English bookseller. As you can imagine, we’re always excited to open a well-traveled box of new and used books, containing treasures we have never before seen, this side of the Atlantic.

More on these deliveries in a later post, but as National Poetry Month winds down, we wanted to sing the praises of one very special book from the UK — The Poetry of Birds, edited by Simon Armitage and Tim Dee. What a wonderful anthology!

The editors have arranged their collection by bird type, not poet. There’s Sylvia Plath on the shrike, Elizabeth Bishop on the sandpiper, Robinson Jeffers on hawks, John Ashberry on orioles, W.S. Merwin on crows, Edward Thomas on lapwings, Kathleen Jamie on the dipper, and Wallace Stevens on the red-winged blackbird. There’s certainly a wide range of birds written about in this 384-page collection, and just of few of the other featured poets include Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Charles Simic, Marianne Moore, Paul Muldoon, Alice Oswald, John Clare, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and many, many more.

And here’s a very fun link to The Guardian, which lists Simon Armitage and Tim Dee’s Top 10 Bird Poems, starting with Gerard Manley Hopkins’ The Windhover: ” a poem that enacts as well as describes, as if Hopkins were channelling a kestrel hovering 100 feet up in the wind; it is mind-blowing no matter how many times you read it.

2 thoughts on “The Poetry of Birds

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