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‘Four hundred lungs breathing one fresh start’: crowd-sourced poem heralds arrival of longed-for spring - National Trust

Hundreds of people have contributed to a new piece of nature poetry, published today, that reveals the nation’s feelings about the arrival of spring after a year living under coronavirus restrictions.

The poem Spring, An Inventory by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett weaves together observations made by 400 members of the public on the first official day of the season, 20 March 2021.

Wood anenomes and celendines ©National Trust Images_Harry Davies
Wood anenomes and celendines ©National Trust Images_Harry Davies

Presented as a tally of spring sightings, the poem reflects the frequency of words that appeared in the submissions, with lines such as ‘fifty-one blossoms on the cherry swell’ and ‘thirty-five suns in the speckled moss’.

The National Trust and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the organisations behind the initiative, said they aimed to shine a spotlight on the quiet but constant role nature has played in our daily lives during an extraordinary year. The contributions were collected via the National Trust’s social media channels over the weekend of 20 March.

People of all ages shared observations from their gardens, local countryside and even through windows, with many expressing feelings of relief – ‘Spring arrives like an exhaled breath’ (Josephine Corcoran) – and describing encounters with wildlife – ‘I hushed my breath and willed it to stay, Just going about as it may. For I felt it comforting to share, To coexist together there.’ (Sarah Hawkins, The Robin).

Elizabeth-Jane Burnett said: “It was a privilege to share in so many people's experience of spring in this way. I chose the form of an inventory for the poem as a way of mapping common themes across submissions and presenting a more hopeful tally of numbers than we have been used to seeing in the past year - in fact, the word hope itself recurred fifty-four times."

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