‘The Way through the Woods’: A Poem by Rudyard Kipling

Following yesterday’s tree-themed poem, today we share ‘The Way through the Woods’, one of the best-loved poems by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). Although he is not known for writing obscure poetry (some of his short stories are true head-scratchers, mind!), Kipling leaves the meaning of ‘The Way through the Woods’ somewhat ambiguous.

‘The Way through the Woods’ by Rudyard Kipling

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.

If you enjoyed Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Way through the Woods’, you might also enjoy his great poem, ‘If’.


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  2. What a lovely poem.

  3. Enjoyed this a lot!
    I feel the ambiguity too –
    And also feel some direct message with maybe his time passes and only some are part of the past and the history of the place

    I feel the big progression of change

    Side note –
    I sometimes use an analogy of a pathway in psychology class when we talk about neural pathways (if the side rail unfolds that is….- ) and how we keep pathways in the brain fresh by using the mind!
    And this selection might come in handy when/if that example comes up again.

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  6. I do like Rudyard Kipling’s poetry.

  7. I like this poem very much-you’re right on the ambiguity. From this one, I get both a kind of haunting feeling, and it comes across as a statement on how nature thrives without human presence. I did a post on this some time ago on my blog as well. Good to see it here.