Across the Marsh to where Ettinsmoor meets the sea

“They were on a great flat plain which was cut into countless little islands by countless channels of water.  the islands were covered with coarse grass and bordered with reeds and rushes.  Clouds of birds were constantly alighting in them and rising from them again.  Many wigwams could be seen dotted about …

Eastward … you could tell by the salt tang in the wind which blew from that direction that the sea lay over there.  To the North there were low pale-coloured hills, in places bastioned with rock.  The rest was all flat marsh.  Seen under a morning sun, with a fresh wind blowing, and the air filled with the crying of birds, there was something fine and fresh and clean about its loneliness.”

Reading this to my children, I was struck how evocative is this passage.  I remembered reading it myself for the first time when i was about eight.

How influential are are ones childhood books?  Today, I am thrilled by the loneliness of marshland and the wheeling and crying of massed waterfowl.

If you have not guessed this passage comes from C.S Lewis’ “The Silver Chair”.

8 responses to “Across the Marsh to where Ettinsmoor meets the sea

  1. Hi Michelle,
    Sure its mine. This was today’s work. My one day free of commitments. I’m part way through reading this book out, and had also spent last Sunday in the North Kent Marshes, so had been itching to illustrate this passage.
    Really this is supposed to be the preliminary sketch for a watercolour. I can work and rework gouache but watercolour, I have to get the light right first time (the light balance is wrong in this sketch, but I only know this having painted it). Sadly, I’ve run out of time. I’ve my daughter’s fifth birthday party to organise this weekend.

  2. Wow, great piece! I’m an avid reader of C.S.Lewis, and I love how you evoked this passage in this piece.
    The details are gorgeous, I love your birds. The composition really works to my eye — lots to look at but it all comes together quite gracefully.
    Ah, what we could get done without family life in the way, but without family life, would we? 🙂
    Sometimes I think back on all the “wasted time” when I was young and free, but I often think the constraints placed on my by fatherhood have forced me to push myself in ways I wouldn’t have as a single guy. Just thinking outloud…
    Happy birthday to your daughter!!

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