The Wilderness, by Kathleen Jessie Raine

I came too late to the hills: they were swept bare

Winters before I was born of song and story,

Of spell or speech with power of oracle or invocation,


The great ash long dead by a roofless house, its branches rotten,

The voice of the crows an inarticulate cry,

And from the wells and springs the holy water ebbed away.


A child I ran in the wind on a withered moor

Crying out after those great presences who were not there,

Long lost in the forgetfulness of the forgotten.


Only the archaic forms themselves could tell!

In sacred speech of hoodie on gray stone, or hawk in air,

Of Eden where the lonely rowan bends over the dark pool.


Yet I have glimpsed the bright mountain behind the mountain,

Knowledge under the leaves, tasted the bitter berries red,

Drunk water cold and clear from an inexhaustible hidden fountain.


3 Responses to The Wilderness, by Kathleen Jessie Raine

  1. wanga says:


  2. malcolm says:

    This poem has affected me very profoundly. I’d never encountered Katheen Raine’s poems until this year. It was quoted by Noel Dermot O’ Donoghue in his book ‘The Mountain Behind the Mountain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: