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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ruffled feathers

I should have chosen leaves over feathers, given the hoo-haa over the Green man faces on the power-poles in our main street - they just don't sit well with some folks. I've been doing a little research, as I sit in the shop waiting for the customers who have wisely chosen to stay at home beside the fire on this chilly winter's day, and found these snippets on the Green Man and the Wildwoods:

The Green Man
Another dimension or interpretation of the Wudewose or Wild Man Of The Woods is the ordinary man driven mad by civilisation, and taking refuge in an animalistic existence in the woods, as happens to both Lancelot and the original Merlin.
Shakespeare uses the fact ‘wude’ also meant mad as a pun in his pastoral plays.
The Penguin Classics edition of “Sir Gawaine And The Green Knight” explains “The wild man of the woods, the ‘woodwose’, was often an outlaw who had taken to the woods and then developed sub-human habits and the fierce unpredictable behaviour of a wild beast.
The green man, on the other hand, was a personification of spring, a mythological supernatural being who persists to this day in English folk dances and in the names of many pubs.”

‘The Wildwood’ is the scholarly though dramatic name introduced by Oliver Rackham, author of the History Of The Countryside, and today used by historical geographers to refer to Britain’s dominant type of landscape when there were as yet no separate, named (and soon to be ‘managed’) pockets of ‘greenwood’ like Robin Hood’s refuge, Sherwood Forest. There was only one great uncultivated, completely wild mass of trees and bushes, stretching almost from coast to coast, which was, in a famous historian’s remark, enveloped in a silence broken only by the singing of innumerable birds. Early travel and exploration was mostly by sea, with land travel restricted to the seaboard, due to one over-riding factor: the omnipresent Wildwood. To quote Julius Caesar on Britain, the whole island was “one horrible forest.”

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