Wednesday, 18 March 2015

'Landmarks' and the Stroud Valleys (a local perspective on Robert Macfarlane's new book)

Robert Macfarlane writes of topograms,
Descriptive signifiers of the landscape
That act as tiny poems, conjuring ‘scenes’,
With words that act as ‘Landmarks’,
Nuanced terms that evoke the uniqueness
And particularity of a landscape,
A lexis both descriptive and figurative,
Where words are much more than just ‘referents’:
A fusion of history, land and aesthetics,
A fusion of the intellect and sensuousness,
Of William Blake and William Wordsworth;
An exploration of localism and landscape,
An in-depth understanding and sensibility,
Using a ‘Counter Desecration Phrasebook’:
Not mere archaisms, but also a modernist
Multicultural lexis, with space for your own
Imaginative and self-invented neologisms,
‘A glossary of enchantment’
Rather than ‘landscape’.

So the next time you are out walking
Around Stroud’s hills, valleys and edgelands,
Check the map and scenery for any of the following
Gloucestershire, Cotswold and West Country terms
(And don’t forget to invent your own words too):
gallitrop (fairy ring); hope (hill); toot (isolated hiil); linch (small grassy precipice); pill (hill);
pill (place for mooring a boat); sill (the glassy fall of water at a weir); spout (spring);
plash (small pool; stank (dam/dammed pool); warth (flat meadow close to a stream);
scort (footprints of cattle, horses or deer); plim (to swell with moisture);
bray (hay spread to dry in long rows); jogget (small load of hay); frith (wood); brash (light, stony soil);
chissom (first shoots of a newly cut coppice); crank (dead branch of a tree);
eiry (tall, clean grown sapling); droxy (decayed wood); holt (high wood).
Now for some inventions:
severnset (view west to sunset beyond the river);
 windridge (winter light indicates medieval  ridge and furrow);
frost-furrow (ground frost indicates medieval  ridge and furrow);
roof-rime (an urban air frost) …
This is work in progress on a landscape-lexis:
Oh brave new world that has such referents in it.
A glossary of terms from local citizens for whom English is not their first language to follow

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