Icon by Nathaniel Smith (The Noun Project)
The Way Through the Woods
Have fun with the poem by trying this...
Read the poem several times and think about the mysterious atmosphere. You could write a story that explains what might have happened seventy years ago. Try to create a vivid picture of the sights and sounds and living creatures in the ancient woods as you tell the story.
Can you hear the poem's music? Try tapping or clapping to the beat as you read the poem aloud. Sometimes there are 3 beats in a line and sometimes 4. Do you think the poem works best out loud with a strong beat or a quiet pulse?
Think about the repetition of the 'road through the woods', like a refrain in a song. Try extending the long, open sounds of rhyming words like 'ease' and 'trees', 'late and mate'. Listen for the sound-pattern of lines where a word in the middle rhymes with one at the end.
What could you do with all this musical mysteriousness or mysterious musicality?
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.