Nature poetry: share your first day of spring

Pink blossom blooms at The Vyne, Hampshire

Spring signals the start of warmer days and longer evenings, renewed life and returning colour.

To celebrate, we asked nature lovers across the UK to send us their observations of the arrival of the new season. These comments have been woven into a new poem by writer Elizabeth-Jane Burnett.

For generations, poets and writers have put pen to paper to express the importance of the arrival of spring and the burst of colour and busyness in the animal kingdom. 

The nature poetry project, delivered in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, captured the start of the season by getting people to share their observations of wildlife, the weather and what spring means to them. We received comments from 400 people via social media over the weekend of 20-21 March 2021. 

Descriptions of birdsong and blossom and sightings of wildlife and spring flowers were among the reflections that were woven into the poem Spring, An Inventory by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett. Presented as a tally of spring sightings, the poem reflects the frequency of words that appeared in the submissions. 

Celia Richardson, Director of Communications at the National Trust, said: 'The feelings of relief and hope are palpable in the contributions as is the sense of connection to nature. Many people have spent more time listening to birdsong and noticing wildlife this past year, and that appreciation of the small things in life, of everyday nature, really shines through.'

'Spring, An Inventory' by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

Numbers refer to the frequency of words appearing in submissions from the 400 people who shared their impressions of spring with us. 

Fifty-four hopes in the hardwood held,    
slow, the hour brightens
through damp roots and fused shoots the pressure wells,
fifty-one blossoms on the cherry swell,                
tiny beech leaves ripen.                    
Fifty-four hopes in the hardwood held    
slow, the hour brightens.            

Forty-four trees in the waking woods,
forty-one spilling gardens.
Five cherry trees where the blackbirds stood,
thirty-five joys through their gleaming broods,
thirty-eight buds nectar-guarding
in forty-four trees in the waking woods,
in forty-one spilling gardens.

Read the full poem Download (PDF)
Your observations of spring

We'd like to thank all of you who sent in your comments and reflections on the start of spring. Here are some of the comments we received. 

Slindon Wood anemones

Philip Strange

'Strewn across the forest floor like splashes of white paint, the flowers surprised us. With their snowy petals cradling crowns of golden stamens, wood anemones are one of the earliest woodland flowers to bloom each spring. They are said to be named after the Anemoi, the Greek gods of wind, and when a breeze caressed the flowers, they nodded in assent.'

Apple tree with emerging blossom and leaves in April at Erddig, Wales

Jess Rippengale

'A week of walking. Day one. I mistake the sky reflected in drops of water for blossom buds on the end of a twig. Too soon for spring. Day seven. I mistake blossom buds on the end of a twig for drops of water. A pessimistic elongation of winter.'

Close up of common primrose flowers

Caitlin Phillips

'I’ve been here before. Through my window, under the gnarled and barren fig, I observe a cluster of primroses nestling together. Like ducklings without the mother duck. Their soft pastel hues, yellows and pinks, iridescent and fragile against the loamy gloom. I watch as their petals, twitched by breeze, beckon a solitary bee. Is this the prelude to a new beginning, I wonder, or just part of a repeating cycle?'

" Spring arrives like an exhaled breath"
- Josephine Corcoran
Robin singing in the garden at Greenway, Devon

Kerry Shephard

'First rays of sunlight wake me from sleep rather than the alarm going off. The birdsong starts early before the humdrum of the cars passing by muffles their wakening call. The new shoots in the garden, buried deep in the soil months ago, spark new life and hope. The time has come to put away the winter hats, gloves and scarves and swap them for lighter, layered clothing, so in turn, our foot-led journeys have a greater spring their step. Then there's the blossom - to me the beauty of spring lies in the awakening of the buds on the trees as they get ready to put on the greatest show of all, spreading colour and fragrance from the moment we step outside. For there is always hope.'

Be inspired by spring blossom