The Herd

The roaming sheep, forbidden to roam far,
Were stayed within the shadow of his eye.
The sheep-dog on that unseen shadow's edge
Moved, halted, barked, while the tall shepherd stood
Unmoving, leaned upon a sarsen stone,
Looking at the rain that curtained the bare hills
And drew the smoking curtain near and near! —
Tawny, bush-faced, with cloak and staff and flask
And bright brass-ribb'd umbrella, standing stone
Against the veinless, senseless sarsen stone.
The Roman Road hard by, the green Ridge Way,
Not older seemed, nor calmer the long barrows
Of bones and memories of ancient days
Than the tall shepherd with his craft of days
Older than Roman or the oldest caveman,
When, in the generation of all living,
Sheep and kine flocked in the Aryan Valley and
The firsTherd with his voice and skill of water,
Fleetest of foot, led them into green pastures,
From perished pastures to new green. I saw
The herdsmen everywhere about the world,
And herdsmen of all time, fierce, lonely, wise,
Herds of Arabia and Syria
And Thessaly, and longer-winter'd climes;
And this lone herd, ages before England was,
Pelt-clad, and armed with flint-tipped ashen sap,
Watching his flocks, and those far flocks of stars
Slow moving as the heavenly shepherd willed
And at dawn shut into the sunny fold.
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