Love what you name.  I am moved by people’s attachment to place, to the specifics of a place or landscape, and this is often reflected in the names they give, whether to the place itself, or to its features or flora and fauna – the detailed knowledge that comes of deep rootedness.  Here Seamus Heaney refers to the naming of fields, and the idea that this might create a mind-map of the place, weaving it into the person.   

… each name was a kind of love made to each acre.  And saying the names like this distances the places, turns them into what Wordsworth once called a prospect of the mind.  They lie deep, like some script indelibly written into the nervous system. 

A sense of this lies in Steinbeck’s recollection of naming plants and animals in his childhood haunts.  And Adam Nicolson’s marvelous Sea Room mentions Christina Shaw from Harris who says:

‘There wasn’t the length between here and the gate that we didn’t have a name for, which is not the case nowadays.  Every ben and every mound and every hill… I could name them all.’

Source: Seamus Heaney, Finders Keepers: Selected prose 1971-2001 (London: Faber and Faber, 2003), p. 6

Photo credit:  TimHill at pixabay


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest