The Way through the Woods by Kipling

I count The Way through the Woods by Kipling as one of the best, never losing its power: 
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 path through the woods 5

  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 10

  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-ring’d pools 15

  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, 20

  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. 25
I wrote a poem early on in University that is seemingly opposite to it and I flip between embarassment totally regretting it and thinking it a shoddy but fitting compliment to Kipling’s great poem. You may find yourself stridently confident like Saul on the road to Damascus until you are dumbstruck in your tracks, and through irresistible grace and intercession you may stay on that physical road while turning entirely along the Way through the spiritual woods. There is no road through the woods, but, and this is a miracle, there is the WAY. That’s powerful consolation when you feel lost- that everyone, though tripping themselves up trying to take their own easy way or getting tripped by others sometimes, is drawn home to canter happily on The Way through the Woods. 


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