National Poetry Day: Freedom

Special Collection

National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by the charity Forward Arts Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience

National Poetry Day is an annual celebration that inspires people throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems. Everyone is invited to join in, whether by organising events, displays, competitions or by simply posting favourite lines of poetry on social media using #nationalpoetryday.

For 2017, the theme for National Poetry Day is ‘Freedom’, so to celebrate the day we have put together a range of poems that are around the theme of or invoke feelings of freedom. Listen, explore and enjoy below.

The Rights of Woman

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Yes, injured Woman! rise, assert thy right!

Woman! too long degraded, scorned, opprest;

O born to rule in partial Law;s despite,

Resume thy native empire o;er the breast!

Song of the Battery Hen

Edwin Brock

We can't grumble about accommodation:

We have a new concrete floor that's

Always dry, four walls that are

Painted white, and a sheet-iron roof

The Collar

George Herbert

I struck the board, and cried, "No more;

I will abroad!

What? shall I ever sigh and pine?

My lines and life are free, free as the road,

I, Too

Langston Hughes

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

Michael X (Narcissus)

Anthony Joseph

Malik in a cage.

That Friday we were driving,

warm leatherette/Austin Cambridge.

In the midday passing


The Pull of Birds

Olive Senior

Colón, son and grand-son of weavers

rejected that calling but did not

neglect craft (keeping two sets of books).

On his first voyage, landfall receding

Paradise Lost (extract)

John Milton

He ended, and they both descend the Hill;

Descended, Adamto the Bowre where Eve

Lay sleeping ran before, but found her wak't;

And thus with words not sad she him receav'd.

Slavery, A Poem

Hannah More

For no fictitious ills these numbers flow,

But living anguish, and substantial woe;

No individual griefs my bosom melt,

For millions feel what Oroonoko felt:

The Pursuit of Happiness

Sheenagh Pugh

But he only said

you had a right to chase it:

he never mentioned

catching it up.

A Glove

Justin Quinn

I lost a glove

and kept the other,

my life on hold

through snow and storm,