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Wordsworth strongly deprecates one shade of green

May 25th, 2011 · No Comments

Day 3 offtrack: Shades of green by betsythedevine
Day 3 offtrack: Shades of green, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850, as we say in Wikipedia) has strong opinions on the moral value of scenery. His poems celebrating the Lake District inspired poets who inspired the Romantic Age. Less well known, but also deserving of some mention, was his absolute hatred of a particular tree that had been introduced to the Lake District during his lifetime.

The larch. Yes, the larch, a tree that figures heavily in one much-loved Monty Python episode, was to Wordsworth simply despicable. For example:

… as a tree, it is less than any other pleasing: its branches (for boughs it has none) have no variety in the youth of the tree, and little dignity, even when it attains its full growth: leaves it cannot be said to have, consequently neither affords shade nor shelter. In spring the larch becomes green long before the native trees; and its green is so peculiar and vivid, that, finding nothing to harmonise with it, wherever it comes forth, a disagreeable speck is produced. In summer, when all other trees are in their pride, it is of a dingy, lifeless hue; in autumn of a spiritless unvaried yellow, and in winter it is still more lamentably distinguished from every other deciduous tree of the forest, for they seem only to sleep, but the larch appears absolutely dead.

And so on, and so on, at very great length in his instructive and often quite funny book Guide to the Lakes. I hope that he would not have disapproved any of these greens, however.

Tags: coasttocoast · England · funny · Travel · Wide wonderful world · writing