And satedJohn Stewart Collis was an English academic and the book written in 1940 is written in the careful literary prose of that era It is about his experiences as a farm hand labourer and woodman during the British war effort of World War 2 But what it really is is a meditation on the English countryside the British farmer nature plants trees and everything that is beautiful and heavenly upon this planetI was mesmerized by the language most It isn t a very easy read the book is certainly not for the casual reader who cares not about the written word In his accounts of life and thoughts on the farm Collis uotes every English poet and playwright imaginable From Blake to Wordsworth to Shakespeare to Cobbett to Thoreau he brings alive icons of a generation past all talking about nature and the beauty of work on the land As I said delightful is the only word I can useCollis loved the land and his work and respected the farmer s work that gives us all food to eat every single day of our lives He celebrates the work and the people in memorable passages but his greatest gift to the reader is his vision a vision in which he sees nature God faith
and work all in the same sense He opens the reader s eyes to what work all in the same sense He opens the reader s eyes to what world really is about and opened my own to the futility of the life we live in our towns and cities a life unblessed by the glories of nature a life that knows not or chooses to ignore the passing of seasons a life that does not understand the beauty of God s gift on EarthI finished the book today on the balcony of my first floor flat in Delhi and looked at the Metro Rail being built above me the sounds of the early morning being workers gathering up tools and getting ready to start workWould their work give them the same satisfaction that Collis was able to find when he worked on the land ploughing hoeing weeding planting harvesting What do they think about it What pleasure do they find in it Does one of them at least one of them miss his village and his ancestor s farm like I doFind this book Read it Modern life is a labyrinth in which most men are lost p242The author finds his way volunteering for agricultural work during WWII writes about his experiences connection to agricultural and rural work including learning to plough building hay ricks and forestry work Put like that the book sounds fine and no doubt similar wording seduced me into reading it What amused me is that he was singing the swansong for the way of rural life which had replaced the rural way of life whose passing Thomas Hardy had mourned There is something pleasing in how difficult he finds it to learn the work how recalcitrant machines and beasts both He acknowledges that it does take a world war for him to find happiness working in woodland with an axe and bill hook and some readers may then feel that this can hardly be a universal prescription for increasing the degree of good cheer among people The author himself was way higher in social class than the people he was among a Guards Officer in the First World war since then he had set to educating himself in the non military sides to life his decision to be an agricultural volunteer flowing from that
politics might be termed in a broad senseThe book recounts his experiences on a farm specialising in fruit then another further west and finally still yet further west in a patch of woodland but all in the south The work is generally hard the days are very long Before he reaches the woodland at times he notices the Battle of Britain taking place over head But for the most part we learn nothing of how he got involved or why he moved from one farm to another there are some occasional bursts of topolect but not much save the ubiuitous use of bugger as noun adjective and verb in the spirit of those times that actual word was not fit for print and had to be represented by the letter b on it s own with a uick reference to the definition given in Dr Johnson s dictionary view spoiler one that played upon the off duty entertainments of sailors hide spoile. Written pieces such as Contemplation Upon Ants The Mystery of Clouds Collouy on the Rick and celebrations of the earthworm the pea and potatoIncludes While Following the Plough 1946 and Down to Earth 1947Cover illustration by Angie Lew. .His Politics Might Be Termed
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One of the most beautiful autobiographies I have ever readA dazzling eye for the beauty of nature The story of an academic finding agricultural work during
and observing and adapting rural life sounds promising and the cover artwork is beautiful too But I failed to connect with the author He didn t tell me any of the things I wanted to know and I didn t finish it This book has been at the back of my mind for many years Around the time I moved to Coventry and acuired my first garden so did the Henry Doubleday Research Association later to become Garden Organic In all honesty a considerable part of the visiting attraction was tea and cake in the caf where we would often be oined by the founder Lawrence Hills who told me than I ever wanted to know about verticillium wilt in tomatoes However I read a good deal of his writing too and he mentioned the influence of this book which has such a wonderful title I was reminded of my interest when a new edition was flagged up to me on account of its beautiful cover by a favourite print maker of mine Angie LewinFor a book I always had a hunch would be a 5 star book I found it surprisingly heavy going at times This is in part because despite the glorious design of the exterior the book itself is crammed in densely to the extent that the last line on a page is often slightly clipped It is also fair to say that some of the themes have become much familiar from subseuent books on similar topics I was helped by a good introduction by Robert MacfarlaneCollis family evacuated to Canada in WWII and Collis chose instead of an Army post in his 40s to pursue a long held interest and contribute to the war effort by working on the land a rather singular species of Land Girl if you like The book is based around his experiences of working on a number of farms as an agricultural labourer and as a woodsman And it is a wonderful book it describes in minute detail various aspects of agricultural work and the complexities of relationships with his co workers with his sensory emotional and philosophical responses to his experiences Much feeling but little sentimentality he values machinery every bit as much as the life force in sprouting seeds He does enjoy the work but he also enjoys a good rest He conveys beautifully the satisfactions of a ob well done By the time the book was published as one volume activities like hayricking were already gone yet theWW2 And Observing And Adapting
book feels completely in tune with the currentfeels completely in tune with the current Most of all he is an absolute master of litotes and has created a very groundedly spiritual but also very funny book A rural memoir par excellence Collis writes so beautifully the next best thing to a Time MachineI can do no better than to uote him I pulled myself together and went out into the pouring darkness and caught the bus and then took my bicycle for the final part of the ourney I was soon passing our farmyard which ajoined the road There is was deserted silent a pocket of gloom a nonenity of a place something to pass by Was it really possible I asked myself that this slushy yard so humble so lacking in all the props and appointments of Power was yet the foundation of society Yet so it was Upon this fabric rested upon this was erected all that glittered and all that shone and I knew that the lighted palace from which I had come where the Figures paced on the polished floor and the Magicians emerged with food from behind the screens could not otherwise exist at all I got off my bicycle and gazed into the farmyard at the stable door the pile of manure the muddy pool the old binder in the corner the oil cans and sacks the three wagons and the two carts under the shelter I peered at these things through the dreary dank of the dripping darkness with some intensity as if aware that here only in this place and in such guise could I find the roots of grandeur and the keys of lifeAnd because he s wonderful Since becoming submerged in the land I had freuently reflected upon how great is the difference between what the man on the road sees and the man The Poet among modern ecologists The TimesDuring the Second World War John Stewart Collis left his comfortable life as an academic to work on the land for the war effort His account of this time perfectly captures the city dweller's nai. N the field experiences From the road how delightful the sowing #of that hundred acre stretch of land appears how calm how leisurelyEnter the field draw close The boss is in a #that hundred acre stretch of land appears how calm how leisurelyEnter the field draw close The boss is in a of great anxiety owing to the threat of rain the horse won t stand still without being yelled at the man bending over the sack is in difficulties about getting the grain into too small a bucket "And Is Late In " is late in the stuff ready to feed the approaching tractors the driver in front being in a great hurry because the driver behind is catching him up the operations proceed against amidst flurry speed noise anxiety From the road how easy and pleasant it looks Yet here we must pause The man on the road does not see the immediate reality he does see something which they in the field do not see he knows something they do not know He sees the Whole He may see only enough to call it picturesueThe artist is the man on the road with visionHis task is to reveal the whole to those who are submerged in the part to unveil the harmony which is really on earth and thus lessen the burden of life Introduction Preface While Following the Plough Preface Down to Earth This is ecological poetry that needs to be widely read so that people have a greater appreciation for what nature is and everything we won t really understand This will help the evolution to balancing our impact on the Earth contrary to our current actions of blasting insecticides to our farms and in our housesAs I was reading on my Kindle I couldn t help but record the phenomenal uotes contained in this book A phenomenal undertaking to be written and to be read Re read after many years Still has massive charm as an outsider gets closer to being a farm labourer bringing his intelligence and humility with him A fascinating writing about the English traditional agricultural practice at the arrival of mechanization with its machines and fertilizers struggle acceptance changeThe book is divided into easy to read short sections that beautifully invites us to think about the toughness of working with nature but especially the apple it seems are open to the attack of hosts of enemies First to the fungi a fungus being a plant which does not prepare its own food but feeds on other plants it has to be protected against the
Leaf BlightBitter Rut BlackBlightBitter Rut Black and the Brown Rut which devour their way into the fruit against Rust which yellows the leaves and eats into the growing apple against Scab which forms dark circular spots on the fruit and leavesagainst the Aphis an insect which gathering in massed battalions sucks the The Thermals of August juices from the leaf and blossom against the Bud Moth which chooses the tree as good hatching ground in the crevices of the twigs so that the larvae can feed upon the foliage against the Canker Worm a caterpillar which after feeding upon the tree lowers itself to the ground by means of its self produced threadand against seven other kinds of moth and wormIn the agricultural world I soon discovered all sorts of problems must be solved on the spot the difficulty must be got round somehow there is no uestion of getting someone from outside to do it I ve always believed that you can never choose all the books you read Sometimes perhaps all the time the books will choose youThis book didI would never have read it Simple as that My diet of literary fiction popular science travelogues and literary non fiction has no use for natural history The last similar book I read was something by Bill Bryson which should tell you everything you need to knowI was picking up books by the dozen in a 70% off sale at a bookstore here in Delhi when I stumbled on to this I was meaning to buy one of these vintage editions and that was what first took my fancy And then I read what the book was aboutIt is a delightful book I have no other word to describe it Delightful in every sense of that word I enjoyed each word each sentence each passage I drank it down like the beer Collis drinks after a hard day on the field at the village pub And like the best beer it left me happy contented. Vety and wonder both at the workings of nature and the toughness of life on a farm Collis's thoughtful curiosity leads him to explore a broad variety of subjects from humorous sketches of the characters he works alongside to beautifully.