Wonder: The Natural History Museum Poetry Book


Ana Sampson has chosen a magnificent array of poems that celebrate the wealth and majesty of a London landmark in Wonder: The Natural History Museum Poetry Book.

It is as though we were stepping into the foyer of this behemoth, in the first section, entitled Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Thereafter Wainwright Prize winner, Dara McAnulty’s The Holocene Extinction, with its plea for ‘birdsong, abundant fluttering/ Humming, no more poison, destruction‘ sits alongside Percy Bysshe Shelley’s awe as he surveys’ all things that move and breathe with toil and sound’ from Mont Blanc.

Thereafter, we visit the Space section and look into the ‘unending sky, with all its million suns’ with John Masefield, alongside marvelling at the ‘shifting disco/ of the inter-galactic lights‘ seen by Grace Nichols.

Meanwhile Aeschylus’ Prometheus Amid Hurricane and Earthquake reminds us of the National History Museum’s Kobe earthquake installation, while Jan Dean offers Remembering Mary, as we turn to the Fossils and Dinosaurs’ section. Surely these exhibits are amongst the biggest draws of the museum?Yet Kae Tempest wonders, ‘Whatever follows u/ Will hut for footprints in the lowlands,/ And piece together fragments of our habits/ From the internet;… 

Other sections include reptiles, mammals, plants, creepy-crawlies, birds, earth, oceans and rivers and human evolution. Like the museum itself, the breadth of theme and contemplation, subject and writer, is vast and Wonder-full.

Bookwagon is awed by the selection that Ana Sampson has chosen. What’s more, we love the concept of this book and the sense of legacy. We recommend Wonder: The Natural History Museum Poetry Book for readers, for sharing and gifting. It is a treasure.

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Wonder: The Natural History Museum Poetry Book

Chosen by Ana Sampson

(Pan Macmillan)– hardback

‘…..my pride is from the life/ throb of ages racing in my blood …’ Wonder: The Natural History Museum Poetry Book is a surging bolt of poems selected by Ana Sampson. This collection is organised as though we are touring this landmark. Thereafter, we being ‘behind the scenes‘. Within this section we consider the vastness of the museum’s collection. Therefore, we ‘muse and -wander- wonder, gasp, sigh and dream’ ahead of marvelling at the ‘magicians‘ and the care of the curators.
Other sections include ‘listening to the trees‘ where we pay homage to the ‘more than ‘six million botanical specimens collected since the seventeenth century‘. Therefore, Zaro Weil muses upon the seed crack that ‘split and softly burst into/ A faint tendril…’ signalling ‘spring safe/ Since time began’. Meanwhile, Walt Whitman’s Roots and Leaves Themselves Alone considers how ‘the warmth of the sun‘ brings ‘form, colour, perfume’… Somehow, it is reminiscent of Leaves.
It seems there is such a wealth within sections that focus upon human evolution and biology, birds, creepy crawlies, mammals and reptiles, space, earth, fossils and dinosaurs and oceans and rivers. What’s more there is a treasure trove of poets and poetry styles, themes and subjects.
This is a glorious creation that we recommend for reading, sharing, gifting and treasuring.


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