..I'm not quite sure of
understandthe meaning of what follows:
He had been born in that sprawling, indefensible mansion of orchards and gardens and watched the city gnaw away at field after copse after bower of its grounds, filling family coffers but searing away small corners of his heart with every felling and building.
In red the crucial parts.
First one. a) He watched the city being slowly degraded at each one of its fields, copses and bowers?
b) He watched the city slowly degrading each one of the fields, copses and bowers of the mansion?
Metaphrically the city as it grows eats the countryside, just as it happens today.
The time of this verb "gnaw away" quite disturbs me. Is it past, present, conditional? present of subjunctive?
Second One. Be one or two, I find difficult how whatever is being degrading (copses, fields, bowers) increases the family coffers.
The land is being sold to developers for building.
Third one. What is felling here? I have no idea. #
When you cut down a tree, you fell the tree. So each tree that is cut down is affecting this person sadly.
Thank You for your help.
Student or Learner