I told you about the book, Landmarks, by Robert Macfarlane (Penguin, 2015). It’s not only about British landscapes, it’s also about language, the words people have used to describe and identify their countryside. It’s lyrical, it’s gorgeous.

I tried to put it off for a while, not to spend money for a while, because I was planning a party and a wedding present for my granddaughter, but I found it slightly discounted at my favourite bookstore and how could I resist/? I have a lot of work and thinking to do so I haven’t begun to read two novels recently given to me that I am looking forward to but I’m not to be trusted with story. I can’t put a book down until I finish it. I must be disciplined. I can’t say one chapter or twenty minutes. I’m gone.

That’s another beauty of this book, Landmarks. It’s a dipping book. It profits from slow reading in lovely bits, no, I do. It's 380 pages, not counting the Guide to the Glossaries, Notes, Select Bibliography, Acknowledgements and Index. The Glossaries are something else. They are collections of words, of the local language for, e.g. Flatlands, Uplands; Waterlands; Coastlands, and so on. There are eleven glossaries but Number X is “Left blank for future place-words and the reader’s own terms.” I can think of one right now for mine.

I read this in a collection of children’s writing ages ago and i still remember it. A very young child said, "I know how morning starts: darkness melts.” I haven’t quoted it exactly but I remember “darkness melts”. That will go in my glossary.

I may not keep the novels forever but this book is a keeper.

TS Eliot and me

I found it!

The Family Reunion, a play by TS Eliot, was published in 1939. I probably read it when I started Honours English in my third year at University, in 1948. My copy cost $2.00. Can you imagine? I found the line instantly and I guess I didn't look it up in 2013 because it is slightly different from my memory's recollection:

"You all look so withered and young"

The idea is right on, though, that people wither and dry up but seldom mature.

Or even ripen.