Re-reading

Entirely Surrounded by Water
Hoar frost

When I last read the beginning of East Coker

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotised.

HollowayI would have been in Oxford, I think, and I had never been in the sort of sunken lane where you do have to lean against a bank while a van passes. Like this one in Devon. The hollow way is hollow because of erosion over centuries, and, says W. G. Hoskins, often it is a path following a boundary with a ditch and bank on each side, hollowing it more. It is characteristic, says Oliver Rackham, of Ancient Countryside (as opposed to Planned), so I might have seen it in Oxfordshire if I had looked, but because of geology the best ones are in the south-west of England (and in Germany). Anglo-Saxon charters are already talking about the hola weg, so when Rackham says Ancient he means ancient –

mysteriously sunk in deep ravines which protect them from sun and the blasts of winter, lined with great trees whose roots overhang far above, their cavernous shade the home of delicate plants like hart’s-tongue fern, shining cranesbill, and moschatel.

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