I adore this poem by Rudyard Kipling. When Kipling wrote it he wouldn't have guessed the awful change in our natural environment. It's ironic that his complaint about the road disappearing has now turned itself around. Now we complain because the roads are key, and the precious countryside is disappearing.
And wildlife is diminishing so much. When I was a kid sparrows were the most common town birds.
Their "dawn chorus" woke me each morning. There were so many little birds, so many different breeds. You needed a bird book to identify them all. Like The Observer's Book of British Birds, a little pocket-sized book that went in your anorak (when it wasn't creepy to own an anorak) to be got out the instant you spotted a bird you'd never seen before.
When I was a kid I knew the names of birds and trees and flowers. I'm so glad I had that, so glad the world was as it was for me. So much has changed, some of it for the better, but a lot for the worst.
|Copyright Janet Cameron|
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.