Thursday, 4 October 2012

For National Poetry Day

The Way Through the Woods
Rudyard Kipling

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.


Oscar Solis said...

What a wonderful poem. Only recently have I started to read Kipling's work so that one was new to me.

It's a perfect poem for the Hallowe'en season.


valdemar said...

I often wonder if Kipling has been done a grave disservice by his admirers as well as his detractors.

Sam said...

That is a marvellous poem. Not at all what one expects from Kipling

Oscar Solis said...

"I often wonder if Kipling has been done a grave disservice by his admirers as well as his detractors."

This is interesting. In what way?

valdemar said...

His admirers have tended to emphasise his upbeat, patriotic and sometimes jingoistic stuff. Not always, but often enough to get Kipling dispraised by people on the left. Orwell wrote interestingly about this a long time ago, so I don't claim to be original. A lot of his stories and poems seem - under a veneer of confidence - to reflect a very bleak view of life. But it's Kipling the poet of empire who tends to be remembered. 'If', and all that.