Friday, January 22, 2010

William Henry Hudson

Hampshire Days and Nature in Downland by W.H. Hudson

Listen carefully to dear, old W.H. Hudson. He will tell you of long days rambling down country lanes, of ancient stone walls and green pastures, of deep forests and crumbling cottages, of overgrown churchyards and hidden villages. He will tell tales of rustic farmers and humorous preachers, of skilled fishermen and innocent village girls. He will sing to you of his special love, the birds: of wrens and plovers, of geese and herons, of curlews and peewits, of cuckoos and swallows. He will tell you of wild England as no other writer can.

Hudson is one of the last of the old-style, amateur naturalists, but he is also a writer. His observations are accurate, but poetic rather than prosaic, with just the right mix of fancy and science. And Hudson’s narrative rambles as he does. He will talk about observations he made about bird behavior in the marshes, move on to an incident in the forest where a spider killed a grasshopper, and then to a meditation on death as he rests on an ancient barrow on the heath. Hampshire Days and Nature in Downland are two of the last good examples of how science and art once met on the page without conflict.

This review first appeared in Hackwriters: The International Writers' Journal.

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