A Letter to Gilbert White by Robyn Bolam



Robyn Bolam has published four poetry collections with Bloodaxe. New Wings was a PBS Recommendation and Hyem, which includes eco-poems with settings from the New Forest to New Zealand, appeared in October 2017. Widely anthologised, her work is included in Land of Three Rivers (Bloodaxe, 2017) and other publications include Eliza’s Babes: four centuries of women’s poetry in English. She was Hampshire Poet 2018 and, in 2016-17, led the combined-arts Ferry Tales project on the Solent.

























Dear Revd. White, though long deceased, you live

through all that you achieved. Your studies were

to detail life, not peer at specimens

behind glass. You grew your own, sowed and reaped

fruit, vegetables and a curious mind,

recording climate, species, songs and flights

in your clear, upright hand for our delight.

Your observations still inspire us:

how bats sip from the surface of a pool

while on the wing; how swallows meet winter;

when swans turn white; which birds sing as they fly,

or in the night. You watched wrens eat spiders,

saw trees perspire, and knew that not all owls

hoot in B flat. You brought us the boy who

ate bees – and chronicled the woodpecker’s

loud laugh. You tell where my sparrows have gone

(to fruit trees now the house eaves are too warm).

Following you, we trust we will not miss

wonders that should be seen. So, I, in thanks,  

sign this – with both a blessing and a x



Robyn Bolam



Unsettled by Robyn Bolam

Starving after long rain, the barn owl hunts again by Robyn Bolam

Gilbert White Poetry Event

Gilbert White