Forest Snippets

A letter from Robert Southey to Caroline Bowles, 18th March, 1819

‘I am sorry for this, & perhaps more disappointed than you will be. A local poem, – such as I suggested in my last letter, – would have a better chance than one of any other kind, – because it carries with it a local interest. The New Forest [2]  is both in its history & scenery a rich subject – & with the help of prints a poem book might be made which would be bought by idlers at Lymington Southampton &c; – booksellers must look to the sale of what they publish, & this is a kind of sale on which they can in some degree calculate. – The Isle of Wight is not so extensive a subject but it would have the same advantage. The Forest however affords more scope, & would supply matter for a very interesting poem, especially to one who has so many feelings connected with it as you needs must have. – Have you ever accustomed yourself to write blank verse? – for that would be the most suitable metre. Think of this, – of the Convents & Castles within its xxx <ancient> precincts, – of Winchester, – of William the Conqueror & William Rufus, [3]  – of its natural history – both as relating to vegetable & animal life, – of what you have seen, & what you have felt there. Think of these things, & tell me what you think of them.’


You can listen to a folk-song recording of Hamilton Aide’s Ballad of William Rufus here:


You can read about William Shakespeare’s connection time the New Forest here: