Naturalist and writer Robert MacFarlane is not only a champion of nature, but a committed hoarder and conserver of natural language – the language of landscape. His latest book, and our Book of the Month, is The Lost Words, a beautiful collection of wild plants and animals whose names have been unceremoniously dropped in recent years from The Oxford Junior Dictionary. Surrounded as I am by nature, it is inconceivable that words such as “bramble”, “kingfisher”, “bluebell”, “otter”, “heather” and “starling” should become insignificant to any British child, but as wildness is lost, both on the ground and in the soul, so wild language is being lost. The Lost Words cements these words with poetry (or “spells”) and luscious illustrations by artist Jackie Morris, in a book for wild children and wild grown-ups to keep safe from oblivion.
The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. Published by Hamish Hamilton
Ps I found this lovely film on Jackie Morris’ website. She paints her wren from the book, accompanied by Robert MacFarlane’s words of enchantment and music by Kerry Andrew.