The refrains of nature: Rachel Carson

If we think of Rachel Carson, we probably remember her for alerting us to the massacre of the birds by DDT in Silent Spring,  and overlook her earlier, more poetic works, such as her bestseller The Sea Around Us, which was excerpted in The New Yorker, won the National Book Award, and numerous other prizes. 

Yet in her era, Carson was criticized by some of her scientific peers for the poetry she mixed in to her science. Here's an early passage from a draft of her next bestseller, The Edge of the Sea. 

There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds; in the ebb and flow of the tides; responding to sun and moon as they have done for millions of years; in the repose of the folded bud in winter, ready within its sheath for spring. There is something infinitely healing in these repeated refrains of nature, the assurance that night after night, dawn comes, and spring after winter. 

At the time — l951 — Carson had need of healing: She was dealing with the discovery of a tumor in her breast. 

From Linda Lear's l997 biography, Witness to Nature, pp213. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: