Glossary entry for
It seems likely that Van's song "Green Mansions" was partly influenced by the
novel of the same name by the writer William Henry Hudson (1841-1922). Hudson was
born in Argentina of American parents and he settled in England in 1874. "Green
Mansions"(1904), his best known novel, is set in South America. In it, Abel falls
in love with Rima, a free-spirited girl of the "green mansions", or unspoilt
forest. She is a perfect mimic of birdsong, has bird-like eyes, and can disappear
from view with the elusiveness of a bird. Due to her affinity with nature, Rima
seems to have cast a spell over the forest and the natives are afraid to enter
it. The forest is a haven of peace, beauty and harmony, but in the end all this
is shattered by the evil deeds of men.
There are a number of parallels to this novel in Van's song. His "green mansions"
is secluded, "quiet and still", and "free from the glamour of the world". It is
"In the countryside where birds begin to sing", including a mocking bird. His
baby lives there, but he has only the memories of a relationship which is over.
The creative artist receives inspiration from many sources, so we really can't
say how far this novel influenced the song. However, having read the novel, it
has certainly increased my appreciation of Van's song.
Contributed by Alan Pert, Sydney, Australia
Van references in:
Part of the van-the-man.info unofficial website