Poetry helping us understand the climate crisis

Poetry allows us feel the full emotional impact of climate change, says Cardiff Metropolitan University's Christina Thatcher.

I discovered Ellen Bass’ poem, Birdsong from My Patio, during the first UK lockdown. My garden hedge was stuffed with sparrows who seemed to always be singing. I expected to see and hear them in this poem too and, at first, I did: ‘I’ve never heard this much song, trills pure as crystal bells’. However, images of ‘acid rain’, ‘pesticides’, ‘contaminated insects’ and ‘thin-shelled eggs’ moved swiftly in. Instead of feeling joyous, I left the poem reeling. What have we done to our birds? What have we done to our world?

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