The Penquin book of Bird Poetry


edited by Peggy Munsterberg

Shelfmark: NP/CU/029

This week’s Book of the Week is an illustrated anthology of poems about birds to mark National Poetry Day.  The theme this year is “messages” and the following anonymous poem from the book seems an apt example.

Wild geese, wild geese, ganging to the sea,
Good weather it will be.
Wild geese, wild geese, ganging to the hill,
The weather it will spill.


Ominous Anglo-Saxon predators, medieval birds who speak English and Latin, melodious Elizabethan songsters, soothsayers and weather prophets from folk lore.


This delightful anthology draws upon the heritage of a thousand years of English bird poetry. Celebrated favourites and many less familiar works are represented together with a good deal of fresh material – bird masses, madrigals, lute songs and rhymes from oral tradition. The book is also a fascinating social history, for what these poems also record is ‘man’s changing view of the world, and in this sense, the subject is man himself’.




Old English
c 1200
13th Century
14th Century
15th Century
16th Century
17th Century
Madrigals and lute songs
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century
Oral tradition

Selected bibliography
Glossary of bird names
Index of birds
Index of poets
Index of first lines

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s