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Fresh Fields

John Burroughs

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Very desolation dwells By grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid shade."

Shakespeare refers to the "ruthless, vast, and horrid wood,"—a fit place for robbery, rapine, and murder. Indeed, English poetry is pretty well colored with the memory of the time when the woods were the hiding-places of robbers and outlaws, and were the scenes of all manner of dark deeds. The only thing I recall in Shakespeare that gives a faint whiff of our forest life occurs in "All's Well That Ends Well," where the clown says to Lafeu, "I am a woodland fellow, sir, that always loved a great fire." That great fire is American; wood is too scarce in Europe. Francis Higginson wrote in 1630: "New England may boast of the element of fire more than all the rest; for all Europe is not able to afford to make so great fires [43]as New England. A poor servant, that is to possess but fifty acres, may afford to give more wood for fire, as good as the world yields, than many noblemen in England." . . . Read More