Earlier this year, before a spate of chaos hit my life, I cleared the area at the foot of the rock wall for two new garden beds. We piled rocks at the edge of the cleared area intending to build up a terrace. Well… The newly cleared ground never got mulched, and the rocks are now hidden under a jungle canopy of weeds. I surveyed the mess yesterday and remembered this Kipling poem that I loved so much as a child that I memorized it.
The Way Through the Woods by 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.
I still love the rhythm of this poem when you read it aloud.
For more Poetry Friday, visit the wonderful Diane at Random Noodling.
It is a beautiful poem, Katya, with that cantering rhythm, too. I love the idea of the ghostly sounds in the evening, ‘the swish of the skirt in the dew’.
Yes, that poem is perfect for reading aloud. I’m going to add it to my e-collection of poetry. Thanks, Katya.
Katya, check out “An Abandoned Garden” posted at The Write Sisters, it would make a great companion to the Kipling poem you shared today.
Ok, so Diane commented already on the An Abandoned Garden over at the Write Sisters…i was about to say that i’ve read another garden poem. Also, i was going to comment on the rhythm of this Kipling poem. I did read it aloud and its lovely like music. I’m poor in term of meter, but i think this one has that..could it be iambic? But i love cadence of it, especially the lines ‘there was once a road through the woods.’
I found the meter to be fascinaing… it pauses and moves a little unpredictably, almost erratically, as if indicating there is a more traditional rhythm buried under the words, much the same was as the steady, predictable road was buried under the tangle of trees. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it … :). Either ways it’s still a great poem – thanks for sharing :)
There is a path through the woods near a fairly new reservoir outside of town that is so deeply worn that the edges of the path are at least 4 feet above the path itself. It is easy to hear the hoofbeats of long-ago horses pulling buggies and carts there, wearing the path down and down and down…
There’s a place I used to pass on a walking route I took that always made me think of this poem. It’s a favorite – thanks for sharing it.
Growing up in India and attending an British boarding school (many years ago now!) we had to memorize Kipling’s poetry frequently, and I always loved the cadence of his poetry, which made it delightful to recite. This poem is lovely – haunting and dreamlike. Thanks for sharing it, Katya.