Yet there is more of Berkshire, with its woods and
downs and hills and plains, in his verse than of Oxfordshire. You see and even smell certain of its lovelier scenes as you read :—
" Summer slept in the fire Of the odorous gorse blossom And hot scent of the briar.
A ribald cuckoo clamoured And out of the wood the stroke Of the iron axe that hammered The iron heart of the oak."
Not that Bridges showed much sign of the expert naturalist.
I doubt if he went in search of the Pasque flower or the thick-kneed plover on Streatley Hill or knew where the wheatear laid green eggs in rabbit scratches on the Downs. He had not the botanical knowledge of a Lord de Tabley (the laureate of Gheshire for those who know Tabley) or the precise interests of Tennyson peering into the colour of a linnet's breast or a young larch cone. I do not know that he " discovered " a common flower, as Wordsworth thought he had discovered the common celandine ; but he had in very high measure the gift of Calling up to the imagination the very essence of the country where he lived. If you don't believe, go visit Yattendon and read the thin little book of selected lyrics.
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