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This article is taken from PN Review 32, Volume 9 Number 6, July - August 1983.

W. H. Hudson, Poet in Prose Jason Wilson

IN trying to recuperate the poet buried in W.H. Hudson's much admired but little read volumes of prose I have followed up certain clues. One derives from a garrulous review of Hudson's A Shepherd's Life (1910) by Ezra Pound who associated certain 'special moments' in Hudson's prose with the Japanese verse form, the haiku. Dispensing with the strict verse form and its laconic brevity, haiku here points to Hudson's acute perceptions of the natural world, his combination of 'emotive expression and refined description of nature' (Nobuyuki Yuasa). But Pound's insight cannot be developed for 'prose-haiku' is awkward when applied to Hudson. His insight encouraged me, though, to break down Hudson's loose, rambling sketches, novels and autobiography into vivid images and allow them to stand on their own in an anthology of fragments. Another clue emerges from Hudson's own writings. He admitted that most of his writing was 'bread and cheese' prose, being his only source of income over the long bitter years of adaptation to late nineteenth-century English life (from backward, rural Argentina). In another place Hudson describes the co-existence of two minds within himself; one was the plodding, laborious 'walking in boots' mind of everyday life, the other more elusive and unpredictable mind he called the 'sparrow-hawk mind'. This attractive insight led me to seek out those images seized by the sparrow-hawk mind and discard the rest. Hudson puts it like this: 'If I could have devised some means of recording them (the hawk-like glimpses), if I had ...


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