Melissa Harrison's At Hawthorn Time, a beautifully wrought, unsettling novel of contemporary rural England, impressed me greatly when I read it a couple of years ago. Although that was fiction, the author's skill as a nature writer was more than apparent in it, so I didn't hesitate to buy her most recent book Rain: Four Walks in English Weather, "an evocative meditation on the English landscape in wet weather".
I'm currently reading the second of the four walks, in Shropshire in April. On Easter Sunday, in a country lane, the cow parsley is starting to come out, and it reminds Melissa of Edward Thomas's poem 'It Rains', "with its lovely sense of the lushness of spring rain on new green growth, and its clear sense of rain's oblique relationship to memory and the past:
It rains, and nothing stirs within the fence
Anywhere through the orchard’s untrodden, dense
Forest of parsley. The great diamonds
Of rain on the grassblades there is none to break,
Or the fallen petals further down to shake.
And I am nearly as happy as possible
To search the wilderness in vain though well,
To think of two walking, kissing there,
Drenched, yet forgetting the kisses of the rain:
Sad, too, to think that never, never again,
Unless alone, so happy shall I walk
In the rain. When I turn away, on its fine stalk
Twilight has fined to naught, the parsley flower
Figures, suspended still and ghostly white,
The past hovering as it revisits the light."
This and another Thomas poem, "Rain", are discussed here.
What are you reading this weekend?