A picture of the woodland at Gorcott Hill with paper laid over the top, with writing that reads "National Poetry Day - allow the Forest to inspire you"

Celebrate National Poetry Day with us

5 October 2022
Heart of England Forest

Each year on the first Thursday of every month National Poetry Day is celebrated. An initiative from Forward Arts Foundation that encourages people to come together because voices, words and stories help to bridge understanding in our community. This year we are delighted that the theme is The Environment.

Sunlight shining through the trees

Today we share with you poetry inspired by our natural environment and of course the Forest. Our Founder, Felix Dennis, was an enthusiastic and prolific poet. Take a look below at his poem ‘Place a mirror by a tree’.

Place a mirror by a tree by our founder Felix Dennis

Place a mirror by a tree;
Tell me now, what do you see?

Which of you will feed the earth?
Which of you contains more worth?

Which of you with sheltering arm
Keeps a thousand things from harm?

Which of you is nature’s bane?
Which is Abel? Which is Cain?

Which of you is God’s delight?
Which of you a parasite?

Place a mirror by a tree;
Tell me now— what do you see

Poem reproduced by kind permission of the Literacy Executors of the Felix Dennis Estate.

We hope this inspires you to create your own poetry. It’s a wonderful time of year to think about the sights, smells, sounds and colours that the natural world gifts to us. We hope to excite your love of language - you don’t need to be an expert in poetry, much like the Forest is open to absolutely everyone.

If you are looking for some more poetry to read today, please take a look at some poetic works from volunteers, visitors and poets below.

Nature's Rainbow by Sue Ashton

Bright red poppies
lasting but a day.
Leaves turning orange
Autumn's on its way.

Dancing yellow daffodils 
swaying in the breeze.
The lush green meadows
and the leaves upon the trees.

A pretty blue butterfly
on the forget-me-not.
The colour of indigo
is very hard to spot.

The sweet-smelling violet
so pretty and so small.
Growing in the woodland
the loveliest wildflower of all. 

A rainbow of colours in the forest, poppies, daffodils, blue butterfly, green leaf, forgetmeknots.

Emperor by Paul Hirons

The pond in summer. Sun beams, reflections ripple,
basking carp meander under the surface sheen.
A skittish breeze creates a stir in the willows, 
tickling the sedges and tousling the grasses.
A languid afternoon. I wait here, patiently.
He will appear soon, he has to. He is driven.

Millions of years of fine-tuning and tweaking
have led to this creature at this very moment. 
High above the water, he helicopters in.
Time is short; eggs to protect, rivals to bully.
He scrutinises me, composite eye to eye,
then dismisses me, disdainfully, and moves on.

I struggle to keep up as he hovers around,
darting and chasing; his armour plating intense
with iridescence; his topaz eyes, all seeing, 
all knowing; his four miracle wings. Oh, the wings
of finest filigree, positioned perfectly
to drive his exquisite aeronautic displays. 

He continues the endless patrol of his realm,
working constantly; bustling, vicious, aggressive, 
powerful and loaded with furious intent.
Whether food or foe, avoid him, show some respect.

Departing, I glance back. He’s hanging in the air.  
The Emperor; seeing me off the premises.

A close up of an Emperor dragonfly

Just out walking by Paul Reeve

A pretty stream runs through this wonderful place,
With the trees in the wood and the flowers like lace,
There are toadstools in their fairy rings,
All kinds of birds you can hear them sing,
The pheasants scatter, run and fly,
And a kingfisher sits on a branch up high,
I can see a woodpecker on the same tree,
And there’s a water rat quite close to me,
What’s that in the bushes that I can hear,
I can’t believe it, it’s a beautiful deer,
He’s now bolted off and run away,
I’d love to see him on another day.

Autumn leaves

The Word Bird by Sally Crabtree

In the beginning nothing was heard
All was silent, not a word
‘til the word Bird sang
And the world began

She sang the rivers, she sang the streams
She sang the sky and she sang your dreams
Oh the word bird sang
And the world began..

She sang the sunlight, she sang the hours
She sang the rainbows, she sang the flowers
Oh the word bird sang
And the world began..

She sang the meadows, she sang the trees
She sang the hills, she sang the leaves
Oh the word bird sang
And the world began..

She sang horizons, she sang deep seas
She sang the shore, she sang the breeze
Oh the word bird sang
And the world began..

She sang the evening, she sang twilight
She sang the moonshine, she sang the night
Oh the word bird sang
And the world began..

She sang the wonder, she sang the stars
She sang all creatures in this world of ours
Oh the word bird sang
And the world began

She sang the love and the feeling that starts
Of happiness deep in the well of our hearts

Oh the word bird sang
And the world began
The world began
when the word bird sang.

© Sally Crabtree
With kind permission of the poet. Please visit her website here.

A poem for the Heart of England Forest by Beau the dog

The Heart of England Forest
Their woods I love the best.
When it’s time to breathe 
And a chance to see
Nature at its best.

For me I love to go and explore
All the sights, the sounds, the smells
With my tail a wagging, and ball in mouth
It’s my Labrador nose that excels.

For my human she comes to enjoy
The chance to walk on pastures new
To take the path less trodden 
In dappled sunshine or morning dew.

The Heart of England Forest
Felix’s glorious vision
Giving us enchanted forests
For us all to stop and breathe in.

Beau the black dog sitting in the Forest
Follow Beau the Explorer on Instagram @beautheexplorer
May a transsexual hear a bird? by Harry Josephine Giles

May a transsexual hear a bird?
When I, a transsexual, hear a bird,
I am a transsexual hearing a bird,
when you hear a bird you are
a person hearing a bird, that is,
I am specific, you are general.
When a bird sounds in a poem
it is a symbol of hearing a bird,
a symbol of a person being
in relation to nature. Only a person
may hear this. Only a person may hear
a bird and write a poem about
hearing a bird and in so doing
praise the gentle dissolution
of personhood or elsewise strive
towards the clear and questionless presence
of an unworded bird, being.
Were I to attempt such a poem again,
I would be a transsexual writing a poem
on hearing a bird—I note now
that “transsexual” is the legal
adjective for a person with
the protected characteristic of
“gender reassignment” under
the Equality Act (2010),
Section 7, which applies
to any person at any stage
of changing any aspect of sex,
and so to make a claim of work
discrimination I must both have
the socioeconomic capital
to bring such a claim and also be
a transsexual—and so be unable
to dissolve without first addressing
my transsexuality to the bird.
Even were I to fail to sound
out my transsexuality, it would
remain in the title and byline, unsilent,
a framing device, regardless, and so
once again you would be hearing
a transsexual hearing a bird.
But now I am too preoccupied
with how to source testosterone—
a Class C Controlled Substance
under the Misuse of Drugs Act
(1971) carrying,
for supply, a maximum penalty
of 14 years imprisonment,
and/or a heavy fine—to give
to my friend, and how to publish a zine
detailing how to negotiate
and circumvent the Gender Identity
Clinic system, given that waiting
lists for first appointments now
range from 3 to 6 years,
without attracting the critical social
media attention that would shut down
any explicit alternative routes,
and whether the fact I have not heard
from my trans sister in over a month
means she is in severe mental
health crisis or merely working,
and whether I have the strength and love
to call her, to remember to hear
a bird. If I cannot remember to hear
a bird I cannot write a poem.
How can I not have the strength and love
to call her? Because I have not heard
enough birds. Because I am scared
of what it will mean if she does not answer.
Because I am scared of what it will mean
if she does. Because I have been working
in too many political meetings scolding
Parliamentarians to call or hear
a bird. In the morning I open the window
before the sun rises so I, a transsexual,
may hear the birds singing. If I
may hear the birds singing the sound
may lift me from myself and my
working conditions. Then the sun,
the conditions, and the working day.

© Harry Josephine Giles
With kind permission from the poet and Penguin Random House

We’d love for you to get involved, so please send your poems that have been inspired by the Forest to info@heartofenglandforest.org. We will select our favourites and add them to the list of poems above.