Attending to the Earth
Brother Clark has said that if we are to be effective advocates of the earth we must love her. This year, the 100th anniversary of Hilfield Friary, we will look at writing that expresses that love and think about the ways in which an attentiveness towards the natural world can be honoured and expressed by an attentiveness of language.
George Herbert warned against resting in ‘Nature, not the god of Nature’. For Francis and Herbert, as for many of the writers we’ll be looking at, nature was a revelation of the God who is its source. What we now call ‘nature writing’ was an act of discerning and celebrating the action of God. While few contemporary nature writers approach their subject in this way, the quality of their attention allows us to know more deeply the earth and her creatures whom we are so urgently called upon to cherish.
During this weekend we will be looking at work from a wide variety of poets from the middle ages until now and also at some passages of nature writing in prose. The writers whose work we’ll read may include Thomas Traherne, Thomas Browne, Gilbert White, Dorothy Wordsworth, William Wordsworth, John Clare, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Edward Thomas, Elizabeth Bishop, Nan Shepherd, Roger Deakin, Ronald Blythe, Kim Taplin, Wendell Berry, Michael Longley, Louise Glück, and Kathleen Jamie.