Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Forest of the Month
This month's featured forest is the infamous Sherwood forest. My own personal writing will come on this forest later. This picture is the old oak that some people think was around since Robin Hood times. As you see, they are doing everything they can to keep it up!
SHERWOOD FOREST AND ROBIN HOOD
Described by R. Murray Gilchrist 1911
To savour the full charm of Sherwood Forest one must stray from the highroad, lose one's path, and wander in happy patience until a broad avenue is reached, or above the treetops one sees the slender and graceful spire of some stately church. The formal beauty of the frequented ways--trimly kept and splendidly coloured--precludes all illusion: only in the remote solitudes with their monstrous old trees is it possible to evoke a mind picture of Robin Hood and his devoted followers. And even in the most secluded places the imagined pageant of these folk suggests the theatre. The loveliness seems unreal--a background devised by some scene-painter of genius.
But Sherwood is always beautiful and always tranquil; to those who know aught of wood magic it is as fair in cold midwinter as in autumn, when the leaves are no longer green leaves, but a rich mosaic of russet and orange and sullen red. My most wonderful memory is of a November day when a fine snow was falling, and the leaves drifted downward in a continuous murmuring veil. Then, no rabbits played upon the grassy wayside or crossed the track, and the pheasants shivered in their hidden shelters. In early springtime one best realizes the antiquity; the first opening leaves call to mind pale lichen growing upon damp castle walls: in summer the air is languorous, bringing a desire for rest and contemplation. Storms are impious there: the ancient oaks and birches and chestnuts must wail and protest, like dotards wakened from senility to cruel hours of actual life.
Of the old forest naught remains in perfection save the southern parts known as Birkland and Bilhagh, in the neighbourhood of Edwinstowe and Ollerton. Near the former village may be seen the famous "Major Oak" and "Robin Hood's Larder". The full glory departed several centuries ago; Camden himself writes of "Sherewood, which some interpret as 'clear Wood', others as 'famous Wood', formerly one close continu'd shade with the boughs of trees so entangled in one another, that one could hardly walk single in the paths," that "at present it is much thinner, and feeds an infinite number of Deer and Stags".
One or two literary men of some distinction have rhapsodized over the charms of Sherwood, notably William Howitt and Washington Irving. Lord Byron, whose house of Newstead lies not far away, displayed but little interest in the district. The only modern writer to whom the secret of the real Sherwood has been fully divulged is Mr. James Prior, whose books, inspired by the spirit of the woodlands, should delight all who love fresh and wholesome pictures of unspoiled country life.
Sherwood, as everybody knows, was Robin Hood's kingdom. Learned men have racked their brains concerning the great outlaw's existence. Joseph Hunter, the historian of Hallamshire, published in 1852 an ingenious tract concerning his period and his real character, which in short gives plausible enough details of his adventures. There is a well known by his name not far from Doncaster, another near Hathersage, in the Peak Country; and more than one village prides itself upon the site of his "Shooting Butts". A cave, by legend ascribed to him, may be found on an "edge" overhanging the Derwent valley, whilst within an easy walk of Haddon Hall one may see two rocks known as his "Stride".
This comes from http://www.sherwoodforest.info/23255.html