No road through the woods?
A friend came to me with Rudyard Kipling's poem The Way Through the Woods and asked about some of the poetic devices therein. Here is the poem:
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.
While reading the poem, I found that an analogy can be drawn between that road through the woods and the way to democracy that the brave people tried to pave with their lives in Tiananmen twenty-one years ago today. Some people shut the road and covered it so that it is now unknown to most. But the road and the memories associated with it are always there. Not only are there people who, like the keeper in the poem, know and remember, but also if anyone cares to find out, he will be able to awaken the scenes and the memory.
Tonight, "if you enter the woods of a summer evening late", if you go to Victoria Park, you will hear some gunshots, the roaring of tanks and some cries of pain and agony, and among them some faint but distinct calls of "Long live democracy".
There may be no road through the woods now, but there will certainly be in time to come.