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Where the Apples Come From

T.C. Smout: What Makes an Oak Tree Grow, 29 November 2007

by Oliver Rackham.
Collins, 609 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 00 720243 1
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Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees 
by Richard Mabey.
Chatto, 289 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 85619 733 5
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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees 
by Roger Deakin.
Hamish Hamilton, 391 pp., £20, May 2007, 978 0 241 14184 7
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The Wild Trees: What if the Last Wilderness Is above Our Heads? 
by Richard Preston.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 1 84614 023 5
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... from the coppice stool after being pushed over by mammoths in the last interglacial? How do our woods, and the ways we have used them, compare with woods in other countries, for example in Japan? The largest and oldest wooden buildings in the world are in the complexes of ancient Japanese temples around Nara. Rackham is ...

Three Poems

John Burnside, 12 September 2019

... in a net I seek to hold the wind. Ode to Hypnos Here is the angel of slumber, come from the woods to press a bloody talon to the glass; the erstwhile abolitionist of mardi gras, pure stranger to himself, he fabricates this ersatz Eden, trading bishoprics of light for milk and honey, words in Aramaic, a Weihnachtsmarkt of diet pills and Lauds. Here is ...

‘Deer (not a play)’

Anne Carson: Jimi and the Deer, 15 November 2007

... SCENE: Sunday. England. Country road. CAST: deer Jimi Hendrix limo driver [Enter deer from woods on right. Stops, stands still on road] DEER: Heart is wild muscle Hum [Limo with JH in back approaches on road. JH on cell phone] JH: So. Dad. I’m in England. LD: Look we got a deer. JH: What? LD: There. JH: Just standing ...

At Portobello

Susannah Clapp, 4 April 1985

Scotch Verdict 
by Lillian Faderman.
Quartet, 320 pp., £12.95, February 1985, 0 7043 2505 5
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... brought against her grandmother, Dame Helen Cumming Gordon, by the two schoolmistresses. Marianne Woods and Jane Pirie claimed that, acting on the word of her granddaughter, Dame Helen had brought about the ruin of their school and their reputations: she had withdrawn Jane Cumming from the school and caused the other pupils to be removed; she had not given ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... out as part of the pain of the earth’. In a chapter entitled ‘The Pink Triangle’, Gregory Woods writes: After the ‘liberation’ of the camps by the Allies, those survivors who wore the pink triangle – denoting that they had been imprisoned as homosexuals – were treated as common criminals who had deserved their in-carceration. Many were ...


Gillian Darley: John Evelyn and his gardens, 8 June 2006

... Surrey is the Country of my Birth and my delight,’ John Evelyn told John Aubrey; and like Surrey, Evelyn has had more than his fair share of bad press over the years. Yet to picture him as simply the pious sermoniser the Victorians eulogised is as misleading as to write off Surrey as wall-to-wall Weybridge ...

Big Books

Adam Mars-Jones, 8 November 2018

... trim on the outside, feigning the sense of proportion that the contents had no time for. John Cowper Powys’s A Glastonbury Romance was a proper doorstop, and so was L.H. Myers’s The Near and the Far, which I read in New Orleans in 1980, mainly in a hippyish French Quarter teahouse called Until Waiting Fills (a line from Robert Heinlein’s ...

Two Poems

John Ashbery, 30 September 1999

... perhaps. Yet no mood will be shattered if we are diplomatic, for once. The inheritors of those woods and groves won’t oppress us, and there’ll be a chance for sleep and some grub. You’ll see. Lost Profile I had a voice once, braid falling over the front of my forehead-house and down the sides. No need for cream separators here someone said. My guide ...

Three Poems

John Burnside, 12 September 2013

... money); but now, for a season, they fly low over the fields and the thin paths that run to the woods at Gillingshill, the children calling out on Sunday walks to stop and look                      and all of us pausing to turn in our tracks while the mortgaged land falls silent for miles around, the village below us empty and grey as ...

Three Poems

John Ashbery, 19 February 2004

... no one to watch it, this sea breeze releases me to the cloud of knowing. There are beaters in the woods, nourishing it, and you’re it, reciting it. The long scramble upstairs landed us here. There is no method in the alphabet; the urchin came unseated. You have to learn to ‘bounce’ with the ages, just to keep up with time. By then it will have been ...

War against the Grown-Ups

John Redmond, 21 August 1997

The Dumb House 
by John Burnside.
Cape, 198 pp., £9.99, May 1997, 0 224 04207 6
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A Normal Skin 
by John Burnside.
Cape, 61 pp., £7, May 1997, 0 224 04286 6
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... conscious of its literary co-ordinates, and this story falls squarely into the macabre area of John Burnside’s work. It is queerly echoed, for instance, by the conclusion of his prose-poem ‘Aphasia in Childhood’, which deals, in part, with exploring woods as a boy: ‘I was sure, if I dug a few inches deeper, I ...

Were we bullied?

Jamie Martin: Bretton Woods, 21 November 2013

The Battle of Bretton WoodsJohn Maynard Keynes,Harry Dexter White and the Making of a New World Order 
by Benn Steil.
Princeton, 449 pp., £19.95, February 2013, 978 0 691 14909 7
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... When an ailing John Maynard Keynes travelled to the American South in March 1946, he was delighted by what he found. The ‘balmy air and bright azalean colour’ of Savannah offered a welcome reprieve from the cold and damp of London, he wrote on arriving, and the children in the streets were livelier company than the ‘irritable’ and ‘exceedingly tired’ citizens of postwar Britain ...


Aingeal Clare: Alice Oswald, 23 March 2006

Woods etc 
by Alice Oswald.
Faber, 56 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 571 21852 0
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... Though she is capable of more, these are the two modes alternating in her latest book, Woods etc. In her second collection, Dart (2002), Oswald sought not to describe water with words but to make water out of them. A brilliantly mapped-out and achieved piece, Dart was like a contemporary ‘Brook’: the great river epic Coleridge didn’t in ...

A Wild Inhabitation

John Gibbens, 3 June 1982

... all sevens. Knowing Thomas had saved the day to give me California Sunshine on. The world in the woods was unscaled. We shed our clothes, a pale stripling and a limber one. Purple foxgloves clung like flies’ tongues in the red clay banks. Dun calves grazed the greenleaf in the sun and looked on. My balls were like pink sea-urchins in the cold ...


John Burnside, 9 December 1999

... sum of my parts I’m waiting for the limbo of a life that goes without saying: a circle in the woods of mint and coal where someone has stopped before now to light a fire                      – almost but not quite right: illusion                like the one who stays at home lost in the warmth of butter and cherry ...

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