Inscape – a poetic articulation of our experience of landscape

I’ve always been drawn to the Romantic vision of nature. National Poetry Day 4th October 2012 set me thinking about Gerard Manley Hopkins, Romantic poet, and his notion of inscape – the unique attributes of a certain landscape – and instress – the surge of feeling it creates, and how landscape filters and illuminates our thinking.

Manley Hopkins used metaphors of landscape to illuminate his own inner (and rather tortured) landscape. Subsequently, the idea of inscape has been re-interpreted by the visual arts and in psychoanalysis to represent the psyche as an interior landscape. I suggest inscape captures the psychological restorative experience we have when interacting with natural settings … more apt today than instress which – over time – has assumed negative health connotations.

When I’m in the landscape there’s a constant dialogue going on between the outer and the inner landscape, an interchange that is permeated by my experience of the place and vice versa. Robert McFarlane in his book The Old Ways articulates this reciprocal relationship between place and person when he enquires;

‘…. the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these; firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself’

So, I wonder what do places make of us? It’s an interesting thought.