Today’s challenge is a poem which inspired songwriters.
is for Kipling.
The Way Through the Woods is a poem from Rudyard Kipling’s book Rewards and Fairies.
The Way Through The Woods
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.
This poem has inspired several songwriters:-
Peter Bellamy sang it on his second album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Merlin’s Isle of Gramarye. He commented in the album’s sleeve notes:
The Way Through the Woods is a short descriptive song about a haunted wood, and is the companion piece to The Brookland Road. Both come from the supernatural story Marklake Witches. I thought the tune was original, but it has been pointed out that it is suspiciously similar to the Lancashire song Poverty Knock!
As the original album wasn’t available anymore, Peter Bellamy re-recorded this and other songs with the help of Nigel Schofield, probably in the mid-1980s. The new version was finally included on the Fellside compilation Mr Bellamy, Mr Kipling & the Tradition. Another recording from a 1986 session for Pennine Radio, Bradford, was included on Peter Bellamy’s Free Reed anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes.
You can listen to it here
The Pet Shop Boys recorded a long and a short version of The Way Through the Woods, also using Kipling’s original words. You can read more about the two versions
There are many interpretations on Youtube such as this and we all have a picture in our minds of what it might look like.
And Colin Dexter wrote a crime novel involving Inspector Morse
entitled The Way Through The Woods.