I just started reading the book "H is for Hawk". The first page has a review that says:

This beautiful book is at once heartfelt and clever in the way it mixes elegy with celebration: elegy of a father lost, celebration of a hawk found- and in the finding also a celebration of countryside, forbears of one kind and another, life-in-death. At a time of very distinguished writing about the relationship between human kind and the environment, it is immediately pre-eminent. – Andrew Motion

Forbear means probably ancestors here. What is the implied meaning, I can't understand.

  • 1
    I am as puzzled as you are. It is a cryptic comment. Presumably it means ancestors (hence the 'death' reference?). I think you will have to read the book to find out. Sep 15, 2015 at 14:01
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    That's a legitimately confusing sentence. I have a hard time parsing it myself. Sep 15, 2015 at 14:27
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    If indeed forbears means ancestors it is misspelled--should be forebears. Forbear is a verb meaning refrain. Sep 15, 2015 at 14:39

2 Answers 2


I think the last part of the sentence, from "a celebration" is a complex noun phrase. The book "mixes elegy with celebration", specifically:

  1. elegy of a father lost
  2. celebration of a hawk found
  3. in the finding (of the hawk) celebration of...
    • countryside
    • forbears (i.e. ancestors) of one kind and another
    • life-in-death

I suspect that this is a slightly non-standard usage of forbear to mean not "refrain from", but rather as a noun "ancestor" (cite). So the last part of the sentence means:

and in the finding... [of] ancestors of one kind and another, life-in-death.

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