The Old Man’s Road

Across the Great Schism, through our whole landscape
Ignoring God’s vicar and God’s ape

Under their noses, unsuspected
The Old Man’s road runs where it did.

When a light subsoil, a simple ore
Where still in vogue true to his wherefore

By stiles, gates, hedgegaps it goes
Over ploughlands, woodlands, cow meadows

Past shrines to a cosmological myth
No heretic today would be caught dead with

Near hilltop rings that were so safe then
Now easily scaled by small children

Shepherds use bits in the high mountains
Hamlets use stretches for lovers’ lanes

then through cities threads its odd way
Now with gutters, a thieves’ ally

Now with green lamp-posts and white curb
The smart crescent of a high toned suburb

Giving wide berth to a new cathedral
Running smack through a new town hall

Unlookable for by logic or by guess
Yet some strike it and are struck fearless

No like can know it, but no life
that sticks to this course can be made captive

And those that know it are not stopped
at borders by some theocrat.

WH Auden