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The Way Through the Woods – Rudyard Kipling

This is a suspense poem so expect only suspense and mystery. After reading the poem you will have some questions still unanswered so don’t worry.

  • There was a jungle. We don’t know how big this jungle was. Through this jungle, a road passed.
  • Seventy years ago, some people shut the door through this jungle. We don’t exactly know who shut the road and for what reason.
  • Probably it was rumored that the ghosts of a lady in skirt and her horse crossed this jungle along this road.
  • The fear of the ghosts scared the people and they avoided the road.
  • In the course of time, rain and wind hid the road.
  • Now there is no trace of the road still they say that they hear a horse pass this road with a lady on its back.


  • Seventy years ago, some people shut the road that went through a wide stretch of land. It was not a jungle then.
  • After this, they planted a number of saplings and engaged a keeper to look after the trees and the gate.
  • Continuous rains and the absence of footsteps favored the growth of grass, shrubs, anemones, coppice and more trees.
  • The enclosed land became a jungle in the course of time.
  • Now, after seventy years, there is no trace of the road that once went through this woods.
  • You can only hear the birds and animals making sounds.
  • But, they say, you may also hear the cantering/galloping of a horse and the swish of a woman’s skirt.
  • Yes, though the road is no more visible to others, a woman rides her horse by this road.


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.

  1. How long has the road remain shut?
  2. How did weather and rain undo/obliterate the road?
  3. In your opinion, why was the road shut?

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.

  1. Is the road still visible? Why?
  2. If the road is still there, where is it now?
  3. There is a keeper mentioned in the poem. What does he keep? Why do you think so?
  4. The absence of human beings turned the once-public place a haven for animals and birds. How?

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)

  1. What does one hear if he entered the woods in a summer evening?
  2. Whom does the otter whistle to?
  3. Trout ringed pool is an imagery. What image does the expression create?
  4. Why don’t otters fear men in the woods?

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.

  1. Why do you think that the horse rider is a lady?
  2. How can anyone know that a horse and a lady on its back take the hidden road through the woods?
  3. What does ‘misty solitude’ mean?
  4. “As though they perfectly knew.” Who are they in the line? What do they perfectly know?
  5. Why does the poet repeat that there is no road through the woods?


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