Rachel Carson said:
“If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry.”
Bug Girl wrote a fine review last year of an often over-looked book on Carson, The Gentle Subversive: Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Rise of the Environmental Movement (Mark Hamilton Lytle, 2007. Oxford Univ. Press.) It’s worth your click over there to read a nice piece on Carson, on women in science, and on nature writing.
Bug Girl spends the necessary time and space answering critics of Carson, of Silent Spring, and those few odd but incredibly active and loud advocates who claim we can conquer disease if we can only spread enough DDT poison around the Earth. Go see.
I find it impossible to stand in a place like Yosemite and not hear John Muir‘s voice — and it’s probably that John Muir found that, too. Or stand on the shores of Waldon Pond and not hear Henry David Thoreau, or stand on sandy soil in Wisconsin and not hear Aldo Leopold, or sit on a redrock outcropping in southern Utah and not hear Ed Abbey. They probably heard similar voices. But they had the presence of mind to write down what they heard.
Writing wonderful prose, or poetry, must be easier when the subject sings of itself in your ears, and paints itself in glory for your eyes.
If Carson’s prose borders on poetry, does that add to, or subtract from its science value?
- How Rachel Carson Are You? (sierraclub.typepad.com)
- Stephen Kress: The Legacy of Rachel Carson (huffingtonpost.com)
- Why it’s important to have accurate history and science on the internet: Don’t lie to kids about DDT (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- What Did Rachel Carson Hear? The Mystery Of The ‘Fairy Bell Ringer’ (npr.org)
- Women in Conservation (wnyc.org)
- The Control of Nature: Rachel Carson (achangeinthewind.com)
- This summer, help kids reconnect with nature (couriernews.suntimes.com)