I Never Saw That Land Before

- 1878-1917
I never saw that land before, 
And now can never see it again; 
Yet, as if by acquaintance hoar 
Endeared, by gladness and by pain, 
Great was the affection that I bore 

To the valley and the river small, 
The cattle, the grass, the bare ash trees, 
The chickens from the farmsteads, all 
Elm-hidden, and the tributaries
Descending at equal interval; 

The blackthorns down along the brook 
With wounds yellow as crocuses 
Where yesterday the labourer's hook 
Had sliced them cleanly; and the breeze 
That hinted all and nothing spoke. 

I neither expected anything
Nor yet remembered: but some goal 
I touched then; and if I could sing 
What would not even whisper my soul 
As I went on my journeying, 

I should use, as the trees and birds did, 
A language not to be betrayed;
And what was hid should still be hid 
Excepting from those like me made 
Who answer when such whispers bid.

More by Edward Thomas

Lights Out

I have come to the borders of sleep, 
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight, 
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose. 

Many a road and track
That, since the dawn's first crack,
Up to the forest brink, 
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink. 

Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends;
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter, 
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter 
Than tasks most noble. 

There is not any book 
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now 
To go into the unknown
I must enter, and leave, alone, 
I know not how. 

The tall forest towers; 
Its cloudy foliage lowers 
Ahead, shelf above shelf; 
Its silence I hear and obey 
That I may lose my way 
And myself.

Adlestrop

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June. 

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name 

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky. 

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

The Lane

Some day, I think, there will be people enough
In Froxfield to pick all the blackberries
Out of the hedges of Green Lane, the straight
Broad lane where now September hides herself
In bracken and blackberry, harebell and dwarf gorse.
To-day, where yesterday a hundred sheep
Were nibbling, halcyon bells shake to the sway
Of waters that no vessel ever sailed ...
It is a kind of spring: the chaffinch tries
His song. For heat it is like summer too.
This might be winter's quiet. While the glint
Of hollies dark in the swollen hedges lasts—
One mile—and those bells ring, little I know
Or heed if time be still the same, until
The lane ends and once more all is the same.