Ravens | 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 know this raven: his home was the Douglas fir that lunged and swung in the wind, a shadow of wonderful omen clocking in-out in the rhythm of his day, moon and sun regular, a planetary– body that caught me, only to let go of me. Tugs of peace, not war. Now he’s lying on his back with a broken neck in a rock-cobbled field of one horse. What does a dead raven look like in the eyes of a horse? I see what he is in mine: a black coal feathered in black ash, fallen from life’s enormous, hand-shaped fi re, fuelled to burn more by his irresistible kindling of absence. Life does remember him, and it’s my human definition not to understand how, my littleness. I say it is indifference–those angels without minds of pity soaring above Clogwyn Mawr but it’s really love, a kind of wild care, not violence. Other ravens, relatives perhaps, mob him to bone, showing his heart to maggots and buzzards haunting the world–ghosts of rancid flesh and blood. The Douglas fir continues breathing honourably, lost of the raven’s dark knot that twisted and untwisted itself toward the sky, crushed by sunlight, prized apart by a brighter light that’s not of the human sun.
—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.