“Stick to the forest-track, keep your spirits up, hope for the best…” ~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
~Henry David Thoreau, Life in the Woods (or Walden)
What’s with writers and the woods?
Nature has always been a major muse for those pursuing creativity, and most writers seem to have a particular landscape that inspires them. The mountains and ocean are certainly beautiful, but the forest has been my place of enchantment since childhood—another world with a canopy sky and a carpet of ferns. Ancient, sacred, untouched by human “progress”—no wonder it’s been the setting for so many fairy tales, as well as stories of magic and adventure!
Writers throughout the ages have made references to the power of “the woods”—whether it be a metaphor for the realm of tough decisions that an individual must make alone (Dante comes to mind, as he opens his Inferno with: “Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost…”) or a sacred hideaway where the search for life’s meaning transpires. In any case, the forest has long been the dominion of the imagination—a place where girl huntresses who take down totalitarian governments are formed, and the land where elves, gnomes, and fairies still walk. Back in the green forest after several years in a drier climate, I can vividly recall why I found it a place infused with magic.
Are there specific places or landscapes that inspire your imagination?