Gentle Poetic Prose And Bucolic Beauty

I had planned this morning, in order to avoid all the build-up chat and the ITC adverts, to watch a recording of the Rugby World Cup Semi Final between England and New Zealand. Unfortunately the recording failed. I therefore had to watch on the ITV Hub with all the trimmings. But what a cracking match it was.

Afterwards I finished reading


Because of the quality of the engravings I have shown here both front and back of the dust jacket.

The frontispiece reproduces one of the artist’s paintings. Although the author does not say so, the halfpenny, or one old halfpenny, would have been the toll fare for crossing the bridge. One crossing the Regents canal at Harrow road near my London counselling room is still called the Halfpenny Steps.

Having recently finished reading Normandy ’44, depicting the devastation inflicted on the French countryside by the insufferable violence of the battle for Normandy, I felt in the need Β of some gentle poetic prose and bucolic beauty. It was natural that my next book would be one by Robert Gibbings, in this case “Till I end my song”, published by J.M. Dent in 1957.

The author’s exquisitely supple and sinuous wood engravings profusely supplement his riverain ramblings displaying profound knowledge of nature in all its forms; charming anecdotes gleaned from country folk and from history, myth, and legend; a pleasing sense of humour and a wonderful command of language.

As usual with Mr Gibbings I show sample sheets from the book, bearing both a selection of the illustrations and the text that accompanies them.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s plump piri-piri chicken breasts; savoury vegetable rice topped with an omelette; and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Fleurie.



Published by derrickjknight

I am an octogenarian enjoying rambling physically and photographing what I see, and rambling in my head as memories are triggered. I also ramble through a lifetime's photographs. In these later years much rambling is done in a car.

64 thoughts on “Gentle Poetic Prose And Bucolic Beauty

  1. Your comment about the game left me wondering – but colonialist left me in no doubt. No wonder it is so very quiet here this morning, we are in mourning apparently πŸ™‚ Mr Gibbings writes beautifully and these little snippets you left here were most enjoyable – I chuckled several times at his understated humour. Especially the lava-lava. Though he wasn’t as kind to his young robin as you and Jackie are to Nugget, perhaps you should read that snippet to him to ensure his world view is widened……….

    1. Had I published a bit more of his robin story you may have appreciated him more. He fed it mealworms from his hand – and it pooped on his papers. The game was really ‘cracking’ – in that there was much good rugby from both sides, but the surprising thing was that England dominated.

      1. Very much so, Pauline. I think the shock for NZ was that this was the first time they had experienced any real opposition in the tournament. John Knifton says there are several copies of the book on Abe Books. Thanks very much.

  2. What a delightful book. I was interested when I read the word ‘astaxanthin’ when he was referring to the salmon. I assumed it was a colour but google was all on about antioxidant drugs made in Queensland from tiny little sea creatures. I wonder if Google would say the same thing if you asked. I am sure it would be different as I have noticed when I go to Google it is always Australia-centric. I used to be able to just type in Google UK or Google South Africa et cetera. But they have made it harder to do now.
    Anyway that is a really nice book so I will duck over to my bookseller and see if he has a copy.

  3. A lovely gentle book like this makes me so nostalgic. I read old books even when I was a kid, and although this wouldn’t have been too old then (haha), it reminds me of some of the ones I read. Books were works of art, and there was a real sense of the way a gentle life could be. Of course, real life frequently conflicted, as you know from the book you just finished!

  4. What a wonderful read to wake up to! Beautiful illustrations, a wonderful command of the language with delightful words and phrases. Thank you for sharing!

  5. How wonderful! The illustrations AND the story! So many things included that are a part of your life…robins, flowers, a garden, other animals, ETC! A wonderful read, indeed! A “great escape” from the stuff in life! Do we just love and appreciate a good book!?!? πŸ™‚
    That last sentence on page 234 made me smile! πŸ™‚
    Thank you for sharing the book with us!
    HUGS!!! πŸ™‚

  6. Abebooks have various editions of this book, all at pretty low prices. It certainly has wonderful illustrations, particularly of Halfpenny Bridge, with its tiny, un-necessary, arch by each bank.

  7. The match started as I set off for work and we were ahead before I reached the ring road. πŸ™‚

    I checked the internet at full time and was amazed that we hadn’t blown it.

    All that and a magnificent book recommendation in your post. Thanks for the excerpts.

  8. From what you’ve shared, I can see how Till I End My Song would be a restorative for the spirit. I tried to find a digitized copy on Internet Archive, but the site is down fro maintenance at the moment.

    1. John Knifton says there are a number of copies on Abe Books. Mine is a first edition. Sometimes I have found later copies of books have less successfully reproduced illustrations, so that might be worth checking.

  9. Just calling in on my old site as I find some time, when your lovely post popped up. Lovely to see that you are continuing in your “out of town” manner and that you now have just under 3,000 followers. What a lovely old fashioned book full of delicious words and such wonderful bookplate etchings. Thanks so much for sharing – wishing you both well!

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