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Rachel Carson’s Muse

A 19th century author helped inspire Rachel Carson’s nature writing

Rachel Carson found inspiration in the work of 19th-century writer Richard Jefferies, whose work helped Carson develop her deep sense of connection with the natural world. Jefferies wrote: "Consider the grasses and the oaks, the swallows, the sweet blue butterfly — they are one and all a sign and token, showing before our eyes earth made into life."

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Rachel Carson’s Muse

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Birdsong bed: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/229533 ]

In the environmental movement, no single figure stands taller than Rachel Carson. Her work on DDT helped spark an environmental awakening in the 1960s.

Some consider Rachel Carson the finest nature writer of the 20th century. In addition to Silent Spring, books such as The Sea Around Us and Under the Sea Wind are evidence of her exquisite literary talent.

Carson herself had inspiration from a 19th century writer named Richard Jefferies. His prose poems like “The Pageant of Summer” reveal a profound immersion in nature and a joyful sense of discovery. His work helped Carson develop—and write about—her own deep sense of connection with the natural world.

Here’s Jefferies, on summer:

“Every blade of grass, each leaf, each separate floret (pron: FLAWR-it) and petal, is an inscription speaking of hope. Consider the grasses and the oaks, the swallows, the sweet blue butterfly—they are one and all a sign and token, showing before our eyes earth made into life. So that my hope becomes as broad as the horizon afar, reiterated by every leaf, sung on every bough, reflected in the gleam of every flower.”

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
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Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by David McCartt.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2018 Tune In to Nature.org   October 2018   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#       carsonr-03-2018-10-01       carsonr-03
         

Reference: William Souder. On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson.  2012.

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