Ghosts are different in the open country,
Unconstrained by the memories of walls.
Here they have a lightness that combines
With the beauty of the rising or the setting sun
Or in the gentle rain melt to liquid joy.
You will, I know, have felt their presence
The many times you’ve walked this way.
Perhaps you listened to the sighing wind,
Playing antediluvian melodies with the trees,
Or at half-imagined footsteps, turned around
To see who, with an almost-silent tread,
Had crept behind you as you stood transfixed,
To whisper beautiful, enticing words
That, just indiscernible, you longed to hear again.
I know! For I have heard them, too.
Not torn from wraiths of long-lost chieftans
Who, from their barrows’ vantage, still survey
The beauty of the land they ruled;
These spirits are not embedded in the earth
But, nonetheless, they have a right of tenure here.
Nor do they cry with grief, or pain of things long past,
But murmur with a deep and pure pleasure
That they are free at last – whilst we,
Whose souls remain ineffably attached to earth,
Cannot yet follow where they lead,
Into the very essence of this land,
To commune with trees and rooks and with the winds,
And fly, with soaring gulls, to unimagined heights,
Or follow the fox on silver-shadowed, moonstruck nights
To where fox and hare have secret shadow- trysts.
In wonder, you and I can only pass along this way,
Bound to a world that they have gladly left;
For they are clouds across a blameless sky
And soar, delighted, closer to the sun.