Wednesday 10 July 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Summer Meadow : Forty Acres of Shared Earth by Miriam Darlington

Candlestick Press
Summer 2034

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this pamphlet

What could be more evocative of heady summer days than a meadow in all its blowy, flowery glory?

In this exquisite prose essay, leading naturalist Miriam Darlington takes us deep into the heart of a local meadow in her beloved Devon. She describes how a “drained and threadbare place” is regenerated, how it slowly fills with flowers, insects, mammals and birds until it is teeming with life – a “patchwork of heaven”.

The meadow does its own work, but it is helped by human hands – something that creates a passionate bond between the writer and this special habitat:

“I turned myself over to the hot blue sky, lying among eyebright, pimpernel and meadowsweet. My senses attuned to a tide of cricket-sound, the whirring voice of the grassland.”

from ‘The Summer Meadow’ by Miriam Darlington

There are many kinds of meadow, we are told. By paying close attention to the particular, a treasured place is brought to life in all its vivid and unique beauty.

Poems by EJ Scovell and Katharine Towers.

Cover illustration by Niki Bowers.

πŸ“– My Review..

There is nothing better to lift the spirits than a summer meadow in full bloom. The gentle fluttering of butterflies, the quiet hum of industrious bees, and the wide sweeping of swifts and swallows as they hunt for insects in the cool of a summer's evening.

Sandwiched between two beautiful poems, Miriam Darlington's prose essay looks at the summer meadow and reminds us that meadows are not all the same. They sprawl over acres, the sheltering home to millions of tiny creatures, food sources for birds, bees and butterflies and a colourful cornucopia of wild flowers and grasses that sway in the breeze, releasing their seeds to  flutter on the wind. Bringing this natural world alive she paints a colourful picture of the glory of nature, from the tumble of bank voles in the long grasses, the chattered conversation of birds, the paint box perfection of a flag Iris and the secretive glimpse of marsh marigolds. It is such a beautiful essay that I read it through several times each time finding something new to delight and marvel in, as the author suggests, this patchwork of heaven.

The two poems either side of The Summer Meadow are equally stunning:

The beautiful simplicity of The Clover Fields by EJ Scovell

'The fields are overcast with light at evening
With marguerites increased, a chalk white setting.
With mist of the damp breath of clover leaves and grasses,
And slanting light reflected from their press of faces.

The whole pamphlet is summed up quite beautifully in the final poem :

greensward by Katharine Towers which is such a vivid description of the hidden life of the meadow I was quite enchanted:

'there are the flowers whose petals dangle like earrings and there are those
who scrape a living against the earth and never see the light
there are those who in spring are like lifted candelabras
and those who in late summer rattle as a warning...'

The beautiful cover of The Summer Meadow also deserves a mention as it brings the whole of this lovely pamphlet to glorious life.

Whilst our summer this year is proving to be a little dismal, this beautiful pamphlet reminded me that there is beauty to be found all around us. The Summer Meadow is the perfect gift 'instead of a card' for someone with a summer birthday, or for anyone who may need a little pick me up in these rainy days.

About the Publisher

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Mountains, Clouds, Walking, Birds, Wine and Happiness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Twitter/X @poetrycandle

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