He went through the wet wild woods, waving his wild tail, and walking by his wild lone. But he never told anybody. Rudyard Kipling
When wild in woods the noble savage ran. John Dryden
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood. Walter Scott
The bow was made in England, of true wood, of yew wood, The wood of English bows. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Away, away, from men and towns, to the wild wood and the downs. Percy Shelley
About the woodlands I will go, To see the cherry hung with snow. Alfred Edward Housman
Ah, imagine English literature without the forests and their deep wet wild woods.
Imagine Robin Hood, Winnie the Pooh, Midsummer Night’s Dream without the muse of the British ancient wood.
And as I have just finished my own novel called Sisterwood based on the very English muse of Hampstead Heath, I was horrified to learn that the British government is proposing to sell off vast tracts of their ancient forests to the highest bidder. These cultural muses will go into private hands. And not only will such beauty be roped off from the public, organizations like The Woodland Trust are very worried that important research and conservation work will then stop.
The outcry has been loud and full of outrage. Petitions are flooding MPs and journalists are dripping with venom.
As journalist Ian Dunt put it so well: “We attach lush, sparkling hues to (the forest) in movie scenes or idealise it in fantasy novels like Hobbiton in Lord of the Rings. It’s a yearning which crosses all divisions – class, race, age or politics. It’s actually more aggressive in town dwellers than it is in country folk. City people need to feel the countryside is there, waiting for them, should they ever choose to return.”
Because for the English the forest is their natural heart. It is always out there somewhere waiting for them to visit. In their literature and their dreams. Even those surrounded by cement blocks are growing up on stories that come from the forest.
As the great John Muir who learned to love the wilderness in Scotland wrote: ‘The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.’
Let’s not let them sell the gateway to the Universe to a privileged few. If you are a UK resident and would like to help please sign the petition.