The Lost Spells


You can almost hear the question and answer song of the Woodpecker in The Lost Spells:-

Woodpecker, tree-wrecker,/would you ever/ give you neck rest and let a fellow get/ a bit of peace round here?’// Oh no, very sorry, but I’m far too busy; go/ to check a beech, a hazel and an ash for/ beetles, larvae, weevils; I have things to/ do, my friend; goodbye- must fly!’

Woodpecker is a reverent and informative interlude with British nature. Like every selection in The Lost Spells, Professor Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris knuckle into the nuts and bolts of a unique wonder and design, alongside respectfully recreating it for us to revere. At its conclusion, after a lullaby visit to the Silver Birch forest, we are offered a glossary of the creatures and plants included in this title.

Each selection is designed to be gazed over, for the images and beautiful text are breathtaking. Thereafter we are called upon to read aloud, share, beat, sing and glory at the wonder of British wildlife and the natural world. Like its companion piece The Lost Words, The Lost Spells is urgent, glorious and essential. Bookwagon is proud to read, recommend and sell this beautiful book.

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The Lost Spells

Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris

(Hamish Hamilton)- hardback

The Lost Spells are created to be read, shared and sung, as though in eulogy. Each piece focuses upon the character, appearance and status of a selected animal or natural thing. Therefore when we read Barn Owl, formed as an acrostic poem, the opening line, ‘Below Barn Owl spreads silence‘ compels us to chant this gently, slowly, respectfully. However, Jackdaw is a rap, one that demands you catch the beat. Therefore, ‘J-J-J-Jackdaw,/ circling the backdoor/ showing off your knack for/letting rip that high caw…’
Meanwhile, Jay is a question and answer verse, laden with memory and pathos- ‘I will fledge you a Jay that will plant/ you a thousand acorns that will each/ grow a thousand oaks…
As with The Lost Words every focused living thing is revered. Therefore the verse and images are breathtaking, intimate, knowing and deeply respectful. Unlike The Lost Words which was tooled with hope, energy and dedication, The Lost Spells is tuned to ‘loss- the tune of our age, hard to miss and hard to bear’. Yet somehow, this little book is truly enchanting; there is magic, awe and spells that demand to ‘ring far and wide’. The Lost Spells concludes with a lullaby to the Silver Birch. It seems as though we are interlopers on the dance of nature in the forest.


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