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Poet's Corner

Kentish Roads

- by 'The Traveller'

I went for a tramp on Kentish roads, I'd tramped in years gone by,
The hills were stiffer, the miles were longer, the heights were twice as high.
I stopped for the night, as I'd stopped before, at the Bull at Upton Lye.

And as I sat in the public bar and mused on the age of gold,
I heard the sound of a swinging step and a lusty voice that trolled:
"Wrap me up in my rainproof jacket", a chant I had sung of old.

And into the bar with its fusty air and its dim and smoky light,
bringing the breath of the woods and fields and the breath of a starry night,
There came a traveller supple and young, whose rig was a curious sight.

A lad in corduroy of a straight ribbed check, with a stick and a haversack.
With breeches buckled tight at the knee, and perched on his locks, good lack!
A thing that was called a deerstalker half a century back.

He shed his gear and sat him down, to it seemed, a limitless tea,
Including a quart of shandy, and bacon and eggs for three.
And when he had finished, he filled his pipe, and settled to yarn with me.

He'd found the Kentish roads that day, the best he'd trod so far;
He'd covered thirty miles, it seemed, with never a trace of tar,
And never the whiff of a motor bike, and never the toot of a car.

And while I listened, it came to me, that I was once like this,
With all his silly ass knowledge and all his ignorant bliss;
Before I woke to the world of change, this lad had managed to miss.

He scribbled his name in the visitors book, and took his candle at nine;
And when he'd gone I turned the page to where I had seen him sign.
The ink was yellow with forty years, and the name he had written was mine.

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