Poetry: the art of the poet; the essential quality of a poem, i.e. … anything supremely harmonious or satisfying. (The Chambers Dictionary (11th Edition), © Chambers Harrap Publishers 2008).

Flitting through our minds, settling in our imagination, birds have long been an integral part of human artistic expression. From shamanistic ivory carvings of swans by our ice age ancestors to the exquisite distillation of skylark flight and song in Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, birds have given us inspiration and solace for millennia.

Little wonder then that poetry, our most ancient and profound of the verbal arts, provides a natural environment for a diverse and expanding community of species. We gasp, with Hopkins, at the kestrel in The Windhover; smile, with Tennyson, at the song thrush in The Throstle; or meditate, with Keats, on the human condition in Ode to a Nightingale. In their familiarity and strangeness, their flight, colour and song, birds are a rich material through which poets contemplate and celebrate.

Poets produce whole collections solely devoted to birds – e.g. Mary Oliver’s Owls and Other Fantasies. Editors of poetry anthologies (The poetry of birds; Simon Armitage & Tim Dee) complain of having to cull so much biodiversity. In my own work (see below), birds are vital and sustaining.

There is much to explore in the relationship between poetry and birds. Birds appear as symbols and metaphors, sing of belonging and yearning, and, when they fly, they carry our dreams.


For more details of what I can offer in relation to the connections between poetry and birds, as well as more details of my own poetry and writing, please see my sister site: marymontaguewritersite.wordpress.com