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The Western Towers
Blackbird
Gone to Earth
The Roman Well
At Ravenscar
After Sunset
An Altar at Cilurnum
Bewcastle
Blossom
A Chorister
Frontier
The Great East Window
The Hunters of Banna
Kawabis
The Legion goes North
Lines in October
The Maiden Way
Pantheist
Pre-Existence
A Song of Forgetting
St Cuthbert's Quest
St Cuthbert's Windows
The Ringers
The Snail
The Street
Traveller's Joy
Wind at Night

 

 

 

   

 

THE STREET

 

 

Where does it lead you at last, at last,

The old lost road in the fields?

The homing swallow has overpassed

The end of the road, and knows it well;

But never a thing he cares to tell.

And Youth may know, and Love may know

The green miles’ end, but even so

From boy or bird

There is no word.

 

Deep in a quietude of grass,

With so great thorns and thick for walls,

And castled oaks at intervals,

You see undeviating pass

The Roman Street and on and on

To London, Rome or Babylon

Who knows, who knows?

 

I think the cuckoo, if he chose

To end what he begins to say

So frequently and far away

In the June nights beyond the mist

Might answer make of his unrest,

Might read the riddle ere he flies

For the sea’s rim and travel cool

To the Otherwhere that always lies

Morningwise

And beautiful.

 

Does anyone travel the green way

From morningshine to dim of the day?

Does anyone pass at all?

Not for Caesar riding to York

The rabbits flashed into their earthwork.

Never the blackbird’s warning call

Along the hawthorn posterns pealed

Because a thousand stricken men

Cried home from Towton field.

 

The brambles dropped their treasures for

No terror of the Conqueror,

But for that, on the Roman way,

The fox went by, the fox Went by,

And after him nor hoof nor cry

Nor any footfall all that day.

Yet down the lost road, bramble and rose,

Bog and nettle and hornbeam by

Stumbling, who goes?

Who knows, who knows?

Here like an end of all desire

The ashes of a gipsy fire

Scar the sweet grass. And here are spilled

Small feathers where the kestrel killed.

And here’s a knoll where I surmise

Some wayside tomb is underground.

 

By this green water I have found

Marsh gentian of the tearful eyes,

So like a child’s their blue; and pink

Of the water speedwell dewy too,

It might well be, with children’s tears,

So briefly lovely they. Who’d think

That underground a foot or two

The trouble of a thousand years

Was trodden to bitter stone?

Here’s a great oak wood surely grown

From acorns dropped in Alfred’s day.

Immovably it bars the way.

Yet who goes through?

The Street goes through, and on the Street

The hurrying of soundless feet.

But not the birds’

Nor any words

Of wind in those high branches caught,

Nor the deep tongues of lonely thought

Can surely say

Who go that way,

Where they at last their travel stay.


 Sometimes I think, remembering

This winged and that lovely thing

Defeating vision, so remote

On sundown tides of thought afloat;

Hearing the bell1ike bidding ring

Of love they bore, of love they said,

The beautiful undying dead;

Knowing how unfulfilled their youth,

The light of all they took for truth

That with the street is dark and gone,

I think I know, I think I know

Some two or three wayfaring on,

What end the travellers come upon

And where the green miles go.

I think I know, yet what is Thought

But echoes of a Thinker caught

In windy copses of the soul?

Round and about the autumns roll

Wild, wandering voices, broken gleams,

Till who may know

Where the winds go,

And what arc things, and what are dreams?

 

‘Well, here’s a stone, and here sit I

With Beauty’s sign to travel by—

Well and enough to travel all

The innumerable miles and deep

That over the spirit’s frontier fall,

Valley and summit, windy steep,

And life’s dim levels. 0 how far

The heart’s unguessed fulfilments are,

And all achievement now as then

Gone marching with tile Roman men.

The whitethroat flutes his fragile bars

Through a dusk-blackened oak.

The vast tranquility of stars

Folds in the dropping smoke

Of that last farm where toiling men

Rest ere they take up toil again,

Nor ever hear on the Roman Street

How all day long with time contend

To the world’s end that has no end

The soundless feet, the soundless feet.

 

 
 
   

Copyright © 2008 [Fen Tyler]