Poems to share this National Poetry Day
In anticipation of National Poetry Day on 6th October, we'll be sharing a different poem from Allie Esiri's wonderful collection A Poem For Every Night of the Year every day this week.
National Poetry Day is an initiative of the Forward Arts Foundation, a charity that promotes the enjoyment, discovery and sharing of poetry. Find out more about National Poetry Day at www.nationalpoetryday.co.uk.
Download a free ebook full of poems inspired by this year's theme of 'messages' here
For National Poetry Day - 6th October
National Poetry Day in the UK usually falls on the first Thursday in October. This poem was especially written for National Poetry Day 2016’s theme: ‘messages’.
look closely and you’ll find them
in fields of patterned grasses
drafted by the hare
embroidered by the bluebells
through a wood
in scattered trails of blossom
stamped into the mud
scorched by heather-fire
across the moors
in looping snail-trails
scrawled on forest floors
scored across the sky
by screaming swifts
in rolling, twisting peaks
of drifting mountain mist
scribbled by an ocean
on the sand
look closely: you will see
For 5th October
In this poem, the American poet Sylvia Plath is addressing her husband, Ted Hughes. Hughes was a keen game-shooter, having grown up in the Yorkshire countryside, and Plath is asking him not to kill the pheasant of the poem’s title.
You said you would kill it this morning.
Do not kill it. It startles me still,
The jut of that odd, dark head, pacing
Through the uncut grass on the elm’s hill.
It is something to own a pheasant,
Or just to be visited at all.
I am not mystical: it isn’t
As if I thought it had a spirit.
It is simply in its element.
That gives it a kingliness, a right.
The print of its big foot last winter,
The trail-track, on the snow in our court
The wonder of it, in that pallor,
Through crosshatch of sparrow and starling.
Is it its rareness, then? It is rare.
But a dozen would be worth having,
A hundred, on that hill – green and red,
Crossing and recrossing: a fine thing!
It is such a good shape, so vivid.
It’s a little cornucopia.
It unclaps, brown as a leaf, and loud,
Settles in the elm, and is easy.
It was sunning in the narcissi.
I trespass stupidly. Let be, let be.
For 4th October
St Francis of Assisi was the founder of the Franciscan order of the Catholic Church, and he is remembered and celebrated for his special relationship with animals, which is what Seamus Heaney is drawing on in this poem. He is also known for his generosity to the poor and his willingness to help lepers. He died on 4 October 1226, and he was canonized as a saint in 1228.
St Francis and the Birds
When Francis preached love to the birds
They listened, fluttered, throttled up
Into the blue like a flock of words
Released for fun from his holy lips.
Then wheeled back, whirred about his head,
Pirouetted on brothers’ capes.
Danced on the wing, for sheer joy played
And sang, like images took flight.
Which was the best poem Francis made,
His argument true, his tone light.
For 3rd October
In today's poem Eleanor Farjeon uses drawing and painting to compare the visual differences between Autumn and Winter.
Pencil and Paint
Winter has a pencil
For pictures clear and neat,
She traces the black tree-tops
Upon a snowy sheet.
But autumn has a palette
And a painting-brush instead,
And daubs the leaves for pleasure
With yellow, brown, and red.
From A Poem for Every Night of the Year, a beautiful collection of 366 poems compiled by Allie Esiri, one to share on every night of the year. The poems - together with introductory paragraphs - have a link to the date on which they appear. Shakespeare celebrates midsummer night, Maya Angelou International Women's Day and Lewis Carroll April Fool's day.
The night will never stay,
The night will still go by,
Though with a million stars
You pin it to the sky'
- Eleanor Farjeon