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Songs from Books

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I am the land of their fathers.In me the virtue stays.I will bring back my children,After certain days.

Under their feet in the grassesMy clinging magic runs.They shall return as strangers,They shall remain as sons.

Over their heads in the branchesOf their new-bought, ancient trees,I weave an incantationAnd draw them to my knees.

Scent of smoke in the evening.Smell of rain in the night,The hours, the days and the seasons,Order their souls aright;

Till I make plain the meaningOf all my thousand years—Till I fill their hearts with knowledge.While I fill their eyes with tears.


See you the ferny ride that stealsInto the oak-woods far?O that was whence they hewed the keelsThat rolled to Trafalgar.

And mark you where the ivy clingsTo Bayham's mouldering walls?O there we cast the stout railingsThat stand around St. Paul's.

See you the dimpled track that runsAll hollow through the wheat?O that was where they hauled the gunsThat smote King Philip's fleet.

Out of the Weald, the secret Weald,Men sent in ancient years,The horse-shoes red at Flodden Field,The arrows at Poitiers.

See you our little mill that clacks,So busy by the brook?She has ground her corn and paid her taxEver since Domesday Book.

See you our stilly woods of oak?And the dread ditch beside?O that was where the Saxons brokeOn the day that Harold died.

See you the windy levels spreadAbout the gates of Rye?O that was where the Northmen fled,When Alfred's ships came by.

See you our pastures wide and lone,Where the red oxen browse?O there was a City thronged and known.Ere London boasted a house.

And see you, after rain, the traceOf mound and ditch and wall?O that was a Legion's camping-place,When Cæsar sailed from Gaul.

And see you marks that show and fade,Like shadows on the Downs?O they are the lines the Flint Men made,To guard their wondrous towns.

Trackway and Camp and City lost,Salt Marsh where now is corn;Old Wars, old Peace, old Arts that cease,And so was England born!

She is not any common Earth,Water or wood or air,But Merlin's Isle of Gramarye,Where you and I will fare.


They shut the road through the woodsSeventy years ago.Weather and rain have undone it again,And now you would never knowThere was once a road through the woodsBefore they planted the trees.It is underneath the coppice and heath,And the thin anemones.Only the keeper seesThat, where the ring-dove broods.And the badgers roll at ease,There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woodsOf a summer evening late,When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed poolsWhere 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 throughThe misty solitudes,As though they perfectly knewThe old lost road through the woods …But there is no road through the woods!


I'm just in love with all these three,The Weald and the Marsh and the Down countrie;Nor I don't know which I love the most,The Weald or the Marsh or the white chalk coast...!