Echoing Marsh | A Selection from Lungs of My Earth by William Henry Searle
Our first offering of 2015 is Lungs of My Earth by William Henry Searle. In the words of Sir Andrew Motion (UK Poet Laureate, 1999–2009, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England) “Lungs of My Earth evokes particular places dear to the author, sweeping them into our imaginations with a rush of delighted language to create ‘a luminous map of the sacred’. Part field-work and part sky-dreaming, it is at once exact and exultant—a vibrant song to the earth and echo chamber of the earth’s own singing.”
I have been watching the egret for a while and I cannot get over how radiant she is even on a day overthrown by an anaemia of light. No moon this autumn morning, but the egret perching at the fringe of the lagoon is as white and as still as an animal of the moon. After lifting her left foot above the dull water, then bathing it back dripping into the slow flow, her eyes close. No ripples fan out from where her foot slipped back in towards the water’s soft edge curved like the side of a violin. Oystercatchers, sensing that a disturbing quake of stillness will soon pervade nearby territories, leave and pipe all the way to where they go. She makes me think what she feels so calming in her furious ease in the stretched-star fled water whether a creature as quiet as her qualifies as ceasing to exist. She might be a god. She might burst apart in an explosion of satin sheeted light any second now. How dark and deep is the dark and deep within and around her? The milligram weight of her headdress flapping in the breeze doesn’t distract her from her work. If she is not hunting or sleep, what, on earth, is she doing?
—Excerpt from Lungs of My Earth
William Henry Searle, Ph.D., born 1987, in Dorset, UK, is a spiritual ecologist whose work draws on the world’s diverse spiritual traditions, philosophy, ecology, and personal lived experience in the outdoors to revive the sense of the natural world as inherently wild and sacred. He holds a doctorate in creative writing and environmental philosophy for which he was awarded a three year studentship to study at the Royal Holloway University of London. Lungs of My Earth is his first book.