Oozing with bad airs, boggarts and other spirits, the world’s marshes and swamps are often seen as sinister, permanently twilit – and only partly of this earth. For centuries, they – and their inhabitants – have been the object of our distrust. We have tried to drain away their demons and tame them, destroying their fragile beauty, botany and birdlife, along with the carefully calibrated lives of those who have come to understand and thrive in them.
In Swamp Songs, Tom Blass journeys through a series of such watery landscapes, from Romney Marsh to North Carolina, from Lapland to the Danube Delta and on to the Bay of Bengal, encountering those whose very existence has been shaped by wetlands, their myths and hidden histories. Here are tales of shepherds, smugglers and salt-gatherers; of mangroves and machismo, frogs and fishermen. And of carp soup, tiger gods, flamingos and floods.
A dazzling exploration of lives lived on the fringes of civilisation, Swamp Songs is a vital reappraisal and vibrant celebration of people and environments closely intertwined.