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If you would write like Henry Beston --- and we're presuming here that you already possess an extensive command of Greek and Roman myth, the classics, and Latin, as well as English and American poetry and prose --- you must yet acquire the following:

1) A thorough grounding in the rhetoric of Shakespeare, and the King James Bible;

2) A deep belief in the foundational optimism of things, as in Emerson and William James;

3) A thorough familiarity and righteous agreement with the natural philosophy of Thoreau. (Beston may not have been in great sympathy with Thoreau's iconoclasm in social matters; but on nature and man, Thoreau sounded the trumpet that Beston answered);

4) Through John Ruskin and Richard Jefferies (and a great deal of study in natural history), an ability to evoke a natural landscape directly to the senses. (Ruskin was a great influence on Jefferies, so Beston would surely have sought him out.)

5) And finally, a close familiarity with The Golden Bough, Sir James George Frazer's encyclopedic treatment of man's religions, rituals, magic, and superstitions. This was a groundbreaking work in cultural anthropology and mythology, and Beston had clearly studied it.

Now, while you're working on this, remember that in the case of Henry Beston, this education was combined with his life's experience to form a warm and inquisitive spirit, an imaginative and focused mind, and a well-honed talent for brilliant and compelling language. No writer of his time really compares or falls in with Beston: his is a singular voice. And although no one writing today is cast closely in his mold of bold and heroic speech, it's our view that Beston prefigures writers as profound and diverse as Joseph Campbell and Loren Eiseley, Robinson Jeffers and Edward Abbey. But don't worry about that now --- posterity will take care of itself. You've got work to do!

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