July 6, 2021


In 2007, the new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary dropped around forty common words citing they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these lost words includes acorn, adder, bluebell, bramble, dandelion, fern, heron, kingfisher, lark, newt, otter, weaselwillow, and wren. Among the words taking their place were attachment, blog, broadband, bullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail

Just let that sit there for a moment and see how it lands in you.

It didn’t land well with Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris and they set out to make a “spell book” that would conjure back twenty of these lost words. Through Macfarlane’s delightful  poetry and Morris’ stunning illustrations, they summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike, and celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature. The Lost Words is that book. Here’s what they created for dandelion.

Dazzle me, little sun-of-the-grass!
nd spin me, tiny time-machine!

   (Tick-tock, sun clock, thistle & dock)
Now no longer known as
Dent-de-Lion, Lion’s Tooth or Windblow,
   (Tick-tock, sun clock, nettle & dock)
Evening Glow, Milkwitch, or Parachute, so
Let new names take and root, thrive and grow,
   (Tick-tock, sun clock, rattle & dock)
I would make you some, such as
   Bane of Lawn Perfectionists
Or Fallen Star of the Football Pitch
   Or Scattered, but
Never would I call you only, merely, simply, ‘weed’.
                                                                           (Tick-tock, sun clock, clover & dock)

I have an extensive collection of children’s books. At this stage in my life I’m not interested in accumulating more of pretty much anything. Yet this book of spells is tempting. I think we all need a bit of spell binding, we all need to create spells through words and art and even music. Spells that bind us to the natural world. 

May we be spellbound.

Judith – judith@stonefires.com