Le Revenant

By Charles Sorley

HE trod the oft-remembered lane
(Now smaller-seeming than before
When first he left his father's door
For newer things), but still quite plain

(Though half-benighted now) upstood
Old landmarks, ghosts across the lane
That brought the Bygone back again:
Shorn haystacks and the rooky wood;

The guide post, too, which once he clomb
To read the figures: fourteen miles
To Swindon, four to Clinton Stiles,
And only half a mile to home:

And far away the one homestead, where--
Behind the day now not quite set
So that he saw in silhouette
Its chimneys still stand black and bareó

He noticed that the trees were not
So big as when he journeyed last
That way. For greatly now he passed
Striding above the hedges, hot

With hopings, as he passed by where
A lamp before him glanced.and stayed
Across his path, so that his shade
Seemed like a giant's moving there.

The dullness of the sunken sun
He marked not, nor how dark it grew,
Nor that strange flapping bird that flew
Above: he thought but of the One....

He topped the crest and crossed the fence,
Noticed the garden that it grew
As erst, noticed the hen-house too
(The kennel had been altered since).

It seemed so unchanged and so still.
(Could it but be the past arisen
For one short night from out of prison?)
He reached the big-bowed window-sill,

Lifted the window sash with care,
Then, gaily throwing aside the blind,
Shouted. It was a shock to find
That he was not remembered there.

At once he felt not all his pain,
But murmuringly apologised,
Turned, once more sought the undersized
Blown trees, and the long lanky lane,

Wondering and pondering on, past where
A lamp before him glanced and stayed
Across his path, so that his shade
Seemed like a giant's moving there.

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024