A Beaten Path

Whitening upward,
Clambering still,
Under the brown hedge,
Over the hill;
Shimmering, slipping,
Pattering on,
Goeth the path,
Where the feet have gone.

What were their footsteps,
Eager or slow?
What were their faces?
Where did they go?
Why by the sea-cliffs?
Why by the glen?
Over the green brow
Whitherward then?

City or homestead,
Battle or bride,
What do we seek
On the other side?
Over the meadows
Yellow and white
Am I an elf-prince
Cap feathered bright?

Skies stoop fiery
A swirl of wings,
Purple and golden
The fen flag swings
Isled in the yellow
Seas of the west
She who is beautiful
Lieth in rest.

Over the waste fields,
Sea-grey and dun,
Track I the stars
More sweet than a sun?
More than the poppies,
Reddens the glooms,
Fire as of haloes,
Flush as of plumes,
Unsealed on the slopes
Is the world's white day,
And the face of a baby
Looks out in the hay.

Over the heathlands,
Dreary and red,
Prodigal, seek I,
The house of the bread?
The wall and the pathway,
The orchard below,
Are shapes of a childhood
Lost long ago
The last rook floats
From the golden dome
All things are peaceful
I have come home.

Hem of the wheatfields
Dome of the hill
Passed by the white path
Clambering still
With pride or wonder
With hope or doubt
As Life's white thread
We follow it out.
Till to end all journeys
The wide world o'er
The footpath stops
At an open door.
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