A glade is a small, open, light-filled space, usually in a forest or woods, cleared either by man or resulting from natural conditions. When Willa Cather described an “open glade like an amphitheatre,” she was responding to the feeling of release that Anglo settlers experienced in their early encounters with the American plains. But glade can also describe a feeling of enclosure and safety, respite from a forest’s dark impenetrability. In New England a glade can be a patch of open water on a frozen lake or river. In sunlight this kind of water-glade will ripple with a chiaroscuro as busy as any leaf-dappled glade. Now glades are inextricably linked with the Everglades of Florida, and as such this speaks to the quality of endlessness that abides in light and open space. Finally, by the time of the Romantic and Victorian poets glade had become a literary device that evoked an ideal place, a “bower” as Wordsworth wrote, or was often employed as a noun for such adjectives as silent, rocky, forest, swampy, and bee-loud.

Michael Collier