• The Hub

    News, Notes, Talk

    Robert Macfarlane hopes this poem can stop an axe.

    Janet Manley

    March 21, 2023, 12:49pm

    Keeper of the lost words and defender of the trees Robert Macfarlane has released a poster of his poem “Heartwood” into the wild in the hopes that people will use it to support land preservation. In an Instagram post, he encourages its use by anyone who happens to be “defending trees, woods or forests from unjust felling.” Perhaps you want to put it on your wall, perhaps you want to sing it outside of your local council, or perhaps you might use it as a “charm against harm,” Macfarlane suggests.

    Article continues below

    Heartwood” was written for the people (and trees) of Sheffield in 2018 when the city was logging public spaces, and has enjoyed a second life as a rallying cry of for those participating in the age-old battle to preserve the wilds, translated into Tamil, Dutch, and Mandarin, among other languages. The linocut used in the Heartwood poster is by artist Nick Hayes (The Book of Trespass). You can download a high-resolution JPEG here and use without credit, if your cause is just!

    Heartwood poster by Robert MacFarlane

    Macfarlane’s Wild Places documented the many unspoiled lands within the United Kingdom, a place long imagined to be one big manicured lawn party. His other books, including The Lost Words and Landmarks each attempt to hold onto the very thin string connecting humans to the land.

    You can also contribute to his “anthology” of protest poems if you, too, love the trees. Words against axes!

    Article continues below
  • Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

    For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.

    x