Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Walks in the Wheat-Fields by Richard Jefferies

A rather thin book which was sent to me through the mail I put off reading it until this time of the year; I thought I'd have more time.  However, I'm busier than ever, and yet still found time to sit in the warm sun out the front of my townhouse and read it.
This thin, old book has been published with the thought in mind where you can take the reader on the journey through anything from the migration of Rooks to their roosting grounds to the woods at twilight.  All these pieces are around fourteen pages long and are in intricate detail; which took me a little while to become accustomed to.  However, once I did, it was like being led by the hand into the writer's imagination and being shown their childhood hiding place. 

'The rustling sound of these thousands upon thousands of wings beating the air with slow steady stroke can hardly be compared to anything else in its weird oppressiveness, so to say:  it is a little like falling water, but may be best likened, perhaps, to a vast invisible broom sweeping the sky.  Every now and then a rook passes with ragged wing - several feathers gone, so that you can see daylight through it; sometimes the feathers are missing from the centre, leaving a great gap, so that it looks as if the bird has large wing on this side and on the other two narrow ones.  There is a rough resemblance between these and torn sails of some of the windmills which have become dark in colour from long exposure to the weather, and have been rent by storms of year.  Rooks can fly with gaps of astonishing size in their wings, and do not seem much incommoded by the loss - caused, doubtless, by a charge of shot in the rook-shooting, or by the small sharp splinters of flint with which the birdkeepers sometimes load their guns, not being allowed to use shot.'

Written in this way, these descriptions are much like paintings and leave a lasting impression on our mind's eye.  The above paragraph was one such part of the 'Rooks Returning to Roost' which stuck in my mind personally as I hadn't read this kind of book before. 

'Walks in the Wheat-Fields' has short descriptive prose originally written in the late 1800's.  If you're not into heavy description - without dialogue or plot - this may not be the book for you.  However thin this book may it, it is full of brilliant work of a great, fertile mind and he put his imagination to work in the best possible ways.  Well worth a read if you do find a copy. 

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