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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 bare— 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.
Charles Hamilton Sorley's other poems:
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