First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Wind and Mist

WIND AND MIST by EDWARD THOMAS

They met inside the gateway that gives the view, A hollow land as vast as heaven. 'It is A pleasant day, sir.' 'A very pleasant day.' 'And what a view here! If you like angled fields Of grass and grain bounded by oak and thorn, Here is a league. Had we with Germany To play upon this board it could not be More dear than April has made it with a smile. The fields beyond that league close in together And merge, even as our days into the past, Into one wood that has a shining pane Of water. Then the hills of the horizon--- That is how I should make hills had I to show One who would never see them what hills were like.' 'Yes. Sixty miles of South Downs at one glance. Sometimes a man feels proud of them, as if He had just created them with one mighty thought.' 'That house, though modern, could not be better planned For its position. I never liked a new House better. Could you tell me who lives in it?' 'No one.' 'Ah---and I was peopling all Those windows on the south with happy eyes, The terrace under them with happy feet; Girls---' 'Sir, I know. I know. I have seen that house Through mist look lovely as a castle in Spain, And airier. I have thought: "'Twere happy there To live." And I have laughed at that Because I lived there then.' 'Extraordinary.' 'Yes, with my furniture and family Still in it, I, knowing every nook of it And loving none, and in fact hating it.' 'Dear me! How could that be? But pardon me.' 'No offence. Doubtless the house was not to blame, But the eye watching from those windows saw, Many a day, day after day, mist---mist Like chaos surging back---and felt itself Alone in all the world, marooned alone. We lived in clouds, on a cliff's edge almost (You see), and if clouds went, the visible earth Lay too far off beneath and like a cloud. I did not know it was the earth I loved Until I tried to live there in the clouds And the earth turned to cloud.' 'You had a garden Of flint and day, too.' 'True; that was real enough. The flint was the one crop that never failed. The clay first broke my heart, and then my back; And the back heals not. There were other things Real, too. In that room at the gable a child Was born while the wind chilled a summer dawn: Never looked grey mind on a greyer one Than when the child's cry broke above the groans.' 'I hope they were both spared.' 'They were. Oh yes. But flint and day and childbirth were too real For this cloud castle. I had forgot the wind. Pray do not let me get on to the wind. You would not understand about the wind. It is my subject, and compared with me Those who have always lived on the firm ground Are quite unreal in this matter of the wind. There were whole days and nights when the wind and I Between us shared the world, and the wind ruled And I obeyed it and forgot the mist. My past and the past of the world were in the wind. Now you may say that though you understand And feel for me, and so on, you yourself Would find it different. You are all like that If once you stand here free from wind and mist: I might as well be talking to wind and mist. You would believe the house-agent's young man Who gives no heed to anything I say. Good-morning. But one word. I want to admit That I would try the house once more, if I could; As I should like to try being young again.'

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