William Blake, painter, poet, craftsman and engraver, was a Londoner.; the “supreme poet of his native city.” (1) How fitting then that a massive mural incorporating one of his poems adorns the end of a building in Peckham. The words ring out:
“The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bells’ cheerful sound
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.”(2)
The words struck a chord as we passed by for we were on our way to a small garden centre to choose plants for Beth and Nic’s new garden. With a mini wild flower patch, nestboxes, bird bath and a hedgehog house the intention was clear from the outset. This was to be a garden which ‘echoed green’.
A few days of labouring saw everything in place. Immediately the garden’s ‘echo’ rang back. A robin was first to the bird bath, a flock of parakeets noisily checked out this new locale while twenty swifts wheeled and squealed their way overhead. All was in place to welcome autumn, winter and “the Spring”.
Once our work was done we were able to further explore Peckham on foot. We could hardly believe it but a couple of streets away we discovered yet more evidence of Blake’s spirit at work. Someone had taken his words to heart:
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be beloved by Man….
Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh”(3)
and created the Marston Road Wild Garden and Nature Reserve. There smack in the middle of South London, teasels and sunflowers stood tall, blackcaps sang, toads hopped, and cherries hung in clumps. The echo from the green was there to be seen.
Fanciful though it may seem, the signs are that the echo is getting louder and reaching further. On the other side of the world in Ubud, Bali, Beth’s young nieces were exercising their green fingers. Helped by Mum and Dad they had been sowing seeds in an array of patio planters, happy faces ‘greening’ their back yard.
Meanwhile back here at Innisfree the fruits of last autumn’s labours have become evident. Readers of earlier posts might recall Alys Fowler’s revelatory sighting of a Transylvanian paradise and my first steps to mimic the vision.(4) In this instance pictures speak louder than words so before and after studies of the Innisfree wild meadow habitat appears below.
Poppy, corn cockle, cornflower and corn marigold make up the red, white and blue meadow. Along with other parts of the garden, Innisfree is now home to fifty nine wild flowers and plants.
While I have dwelt on how a mini green echo has reverberated around our family there is evidence of it being heard loud and clear, far and wide.
A recent Guardian editorial (5) reported on rewilding efforts across the country from Rotherham to Aberdeen. As for ‘loud and clear’ the echo is being heard in unlikely places. In the radio world of our fictional namesakes, Phoebe and Rex have set out to win Peggy’s prize by re wilding Ambridge with wild flowers! (6) Now that is an “echoing green” moment Blake would have been delighted to hear.
We know of course that “All is not ok” in the world (7) but small steps like those described above can become part of a bigger moment. With that in mind I’ll end with a heartwarming note. Fifteen Little Terns have fledged and flown from their protected refuge on Lindisfarne, helped along by the protective vigilance afforded by a group of young people and their back up team.
- The opinion of Kathleen Raine in her introduction to the Faber and Faber collection entitled ‘A Choice of Blake’s Verse’. 1970.
- First verse of The Ecchoing Green from the above collection.
- Some lines from ‘Auguries Of Innocence by William Blake.
- See birdsbikesbuttercups.co.uk posts entitled Synchronicity and Moments in Time.
- Guardian Editorial 19/7/19
- July 2019 radio transmissions of the Archers.
- ‘All is not Ok’ : Guardian report 23/7/19 on the memorial in Iceland to the first of Iceland’s glaciers to have melted away. The memorial reads;
“This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it. Dated August 2019.”