Some Kipling today.
I’ve always loved this one, and was reminded of it last night, as I sat in the garden at twilight, watching as the small grey bats flew circles, quite a dance, lower and lower around me, entirely unafraid…
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 don’t know whether there are ghostly presences in my garden – although the house was built on the site of a Napoleonic battlefield, so who am I to say there aren’t – but the idea is a very pleasant one to entertain on a blue-green summer evening, in a garden gone slightly wild, where birds and bats and hedgehogs are reasonably sure that no one will bother them.