3 FEBRUARY 1956, Page 24

A Poet's Prospect

A PROSPECT OF BRITAIN. By Andrew Young. (Hutchinson, I 6.s.)

THIS is a fine and pleasing book, far above the general run of con- temporary 'books about the countryside.' Its danger lies in the already large output, during recent years, of 'travel books' either put together from guide-books or, alternatively, gushed out in

extravagant and wordy enthusiasm from inadequate study—and, in either case, decorated with the now familar 'camera studies' pre- sumably designed to divert the critical eye from the deficiencies of the text. From Dr. Young's resources, a full dozen books might have been written. Instead, he has set down, with the admirable concentration of a bare two hundred pages, his views, ideas and studies of many regions and districts of Britain. He writes with common sense, as in

We say the church fits in with the landscape, thohgh it would be correcter to say the landscape fits in with the church, which is likely to be older, built before field-pattern was formed or tree' clump planted.

His feeling for landscape and background of poetry are the basis for a catholic study of history, archaeology, wild flowers, legends and people. Never had a book of topography less need of the 'embellishment' of the same kind of photographs as all the others carry. Admirable as they may be in themselves, they have so little place in the author's scheme that the sympathetic reader will barely notice them, for Dr. Young has written one of those rare travel bdoks entitled to be called a 'Companion.'