They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods...
But there is no road through the woods.
(picture from http://www.goblincombe.com/ )
I first read this poem when I was around eleven or twelve. It appealed to my imagination and I really enjoyed the way the words sounded, especially the lines, 'You will hear the beat of a horse's feet, and the swish of a skirt in the dew'. Those lines still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up! It still appeals to me now but more for the feeling behind the poem, of looking back to an age gone by and mourning its loss. It also has relevance in our modern world, where more land is being taken up for housing and we are losing the beautiful countryside. Probably due to reading the book 'Circle of Sisters' which is all about the MacDonald sisters, one of whom was Rudyard Kipling's mother, this poem has been on my mind for a while, so I thought I would include it in my blog.