Tussock-lined tract

Tussock-lined tract

What formerly passed for a lawn in our garden is now becoming a wild meadow, notwithstanding its random colonization by tough tussocks. Recently learned that the word ‘hassock’ can also mean ‘tussock’ in Scottish or Northern English. ‘A...
Worm-channered posts

Worm-channered posts

This suggests woodworm tunneled posts and I imagine that ‘channered’ refers to the tiny channels they carve on the surface of it. This possible channel-like definition is further reinforced by another example in the same book: ‘The trickles in the...
As sharp as …

As sharp as …

A flint-chip razor simile for a beak’s sharpness. Elsewhere in Tarka we encounter birds skewering frogs through the head with their beaks, or otherwise impaling prey. ‘Its beak was sharp as a rock-splinter.’   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the...
Moon as feather

Moon as feather

A lyrical description of the sun, the moon, and the dreams of an otter – that he might swim, unhunted and unhungry, down to the sea with his otter-son. The metaphor makes it seem a wispy crescent moon lying smile-curved in the sky, and so resembling a falling...
A cry like …

A cry like …

Williamson pays close attention to the calls and cries of birds and animals, and here he distinguishes between the mutual call of a dog and a bitch otter. I found the description of White-tip’s cry extraordinary. ‘White-tip answered him. Her cry was like...
Like fighting polar bears

Like fighting polar bears

What a way to capture the roar of a powerful river in full flux. ‘… back into the lower river again, which roared and heaved like fighting polar bears.’   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two...
As quick as …

As quick as …

Tarka the otter is hunted but fights ferociously and strategically. Here he bites back as hounds close in. He gives as good as he gets. See another image for speed conveyed by the slither of a viper, and one drawing on a quick drip tempo. ‘Tarka bit and bit and...
As fast as …

As fast as …

How fast can a pattering heart beat?  As fast as water can drip before it starts dribbling. You can’t quantify that transition, but you know it when you see it. Other speed similes use a viper to convey quickness: one by Williamson and another by Christopher...
Glidder

Glidder

‘It was low tide, and the water ran below glidders, or steep muddy slopes.’ Williamson has a helpful habit of using unusual words and then immediately providing his definition of them.  Here he defines ‘glidder’ as a steep muddy slope, which...
Yarr

Yarr

‘Deadlock yarred through his bare teeth.’ ‘Between his teeth the hound yarred…’ A word now apparently limited to dialect, but feel free to revive it more generally.  If anyone snarls or growls at you, you can tell them to ‘Stop...
Glidden

Glidden

‘… to where the banks were glidden into mud smothered by the sea.’ An English dialect word meaning to ‘glaze over’ or cover with ice. Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus....
Like a broken viper

Like a broken viper

A wildly meandering river likened to a viper broken by a buzzard – Williamson’s inventiveness is a wonder, and almost always nature-drawn. ‘Seen by day from the hilltops, the river lay its course like a viper broken by a buzzard’s beak and...
Big blackberries

Big blackberries

A berry crushed into service as a metaphor for a mud-mark. ‘Tarka’s deep seals in the lower ooze showed like big blackberries crushed in the mud.’   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers,...
Mazzard

Mazzard

‘… under the mazzard orchards growing on the northern slope of the valley.’ According to the OED, mazzard is a ‘small, dark, sweet cherry of Devon origin’, the fruit or tree of a wild cherry, Prunus avium. It sounds perfect for making the...

Pin It on Pinterest