Today is National Poetry Day, an annual celebration that inspires people throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems. Founded in 1994 by the Forward Arts Foundation, the charity encourages everyone to get involved with poetic activities, whether by organising events, displays, competitions or by simply posting favourite lines of poetry on social media using #nationalpoetryday.
National Poetry Day 2017’s topic is freedom, a great theme that can be interpreted in many different ways. Here are a few of our favourite poems focused on the idea of freedom:
‘Eternity’ by William Blake
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise
‘The Old Stoic’ by Emily Brontë
Riches I hold in light esteem,
And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream,
That vanished with the morn:
And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, “Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!”
Yes, as my swift days near their goal:
’Tis all that I implore;
In life and death a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.
‘I Know My Soul’ by Claude McKay
I plucked my soul out of its secret place,
And held it to the mirror of my eye,
To see it like a star against the sky,
A twitching body quivering in space,
A spark of passion shining on my face.
And I explored it to determine why
This awful key to my infinity
Conspires to rob me of sweet joy and grace.
And if the sign may not be fully read,
If I can comprehend but not control,
I need not gloom my days with futile dread,
Because I see a part and not the whole.
Contemplating the strange, I’m comforted
By this narcotic thought: I know my soul.
There are plenty of celebrations taking place across the UK, from a musical bus journey in Wakefield, to a poetry slam in Perth, to an underground theatre show in Eastbourne. You can find your nearest event here.