Spanning twenty-three centuries, 'this remarkable anthology', as RICHARD MABEY describes it in his Preface, begins with an extract from a pastoral poem by Theocritus, Third Century B.C., and ends with a description of the bird's habits and habitats, with a sombre reminder of the skylark's drastic destruction in European countries. (The skylark is not just European. It is also indigenous to Asia and North West Africa has been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, and parts of North America by emigrants. 'Daybreak', by Japanese poet Uejima Onitsura, was written in the Seventeenth Century.)
The book is available directly from:
SMH books (click on this text to go to their web page).
The collection includes many well-known, as well as lesser known items, but all by writers fascinated by 5 aspects of the skylark's life. As Stewart Beer observes: 'In peace, as in war, the skylark's. joyous song enlighten the spirit'. Several striking war poems, again, not just famous ones, bear witness to this.
Mr. Beer's 'lifelong passions for natural history, the countryside and related literature have all been fused in tribute'. He is not just honouring the skylark, 'bird of bright infinity', and giving readers pleasure and information in the process. Indirectly, he throws out a challenge to all to consider the skylark's threatened extinction - and do something about it.
William Shakespeare (song from 'Cymbeline')
Gerard Manley Hopkins
The Preface was written by Richard Mabey
Oh! the downs high to the cool sky;
And the feel of the sun-warmed moss;
And each cardoon, like a full moon,
Fairy-spun of the thistle floss;
And the beech grove, and a wood dove,
And the trail where the shepherds pass;
And the lark's song, and the wind song,
And the scent of the parching grass!
John Galsworthy (1867-1933)
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