The Year of the Rabbit

Happy New Year and thanks to Yuka Nakai for her delightful drawing to celebrate The Year of the Water Rabbit as this year in the lunar calendar is known in Japan. The Year of the Rabbit proposes to be one of peace, prosperity and longevity so let’s hope that it delivers. Characteristics of rabbits are said to include sensitivity, compassion and creativity. Perhaps this year will be a good one for thought-provoking and inspiring writing.

The Rabbit in Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads (2010)Yorkshire Sculpture Park, January 2023.

Although rabbits feature a good deal in classic European children’s literature – think of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit or the numerous rabbits of Watership Down – I found it difficult to locate many poems about rabbits.

However, one poem stands out. Alan Brownjohn’s The Rabbit is a chilling piece about the last rabbit in England ‘nibbling grass/ on the only patch of grass/in England’. Thousands of people come by escalator, underground, motorway, ‘helicopterway’ and on foot to see it but it hides in its warren beneath the barbed wire enclosure ‘remarking rather sadly to himself, by himself….They are bound to come and find me, even here.’ You can find out more about Alan Brownjohn’s work here at the Children’s Poetry Archive and listen to a YouTube reading of his poem here.

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