A hundred years or more, she's bent her crownin storm, in sun, in moonsplashed midnight breeze. Surviving all the random vagariesof this harsh world. A dense - twigged veil drifts downfrom crown along her trunk - mourning slow woodthat rustles tattered, in a hint of windthis January dusk, cloudy, purplingthe ground with sudden shadows. How she broods -you speculate - on dark surprise and loss, alone these many years, despondent, bent, her bolt-cracked mate transformed to splinters, moss. Though not alone, you feel the sadness of atwilight breeze. There's never enough love; the widow nods to you. Her branches moan.
When I consider that the nobler animal have been exterminated here - the cougar, the panther, lynx, wolverine, wolf, bear, moose, dear, the beaver, the turkey and so forth and so forth, I cannot but feel as if I lived in a tamed and, as it were, emasculated country.. Is it not a maimed and imperfect nature I am conversing with? As if I were to study a tribe of Indians that had lost all it's warriors..I take infinite pains to know all the phenomena of the spring, for instance, thinking that I have here the entire poem, and then, to my chagrin, I hear that it is but an imperfect copy that I possess and have read, that my ancestors have torn out many of the first leaves and grandest passages, and mutilated it in many places. I should not like to think that some demigod had come before me and picked out some of the best of the stars. I wish to know an entire heaven and an entire earth.
When you draw, you copy the world don't you? You remake it on paper, but it isn't the same. It's yours. No one else could have created it just like that. When I make poems, I use the words we all use, but the order and the sound create a new power. This wood is someone's creation. We stumble through it's tendrils, as if we're crawling through the synapses of his mind.
I think people who don't know the woods very well sometimes imagine it as a kind of undifferentiated mass of greenery, an endless continuation of the wall of trees they see lining the road. And I think they wonder how it could hold anyone's interest for very long, being all so much the same. But in truth I have a list of a hundred places in my own town I haven't been yet. Quaking bogs to walk on; ponds I've never seen in the fall (I've seen them in the summer - but that's a different pond). That list gets longer every year, the more I learn, and doubtless it will grow until the day I die. So many glades; so little time.
No, what numbed these fields, peopled with bad dreams was not the oppressive grip of a plague but rather an ailing retreat, a sort of sad widowhood. Man had started to subdue these vacant expanses, then had grown weary of eating into it, and now even the desire to preserve what had been claimed had perished. He had established everywhere an ebb, a sorrowful withdrawal. His cuttings into the forest, which were seen at long intervals, had lost their hard edges, their distinct notches: now a thick brushwood had driven its sabbath into the broad daylight of the glades, hiding the naked trunks as high as their lowest branches.
Though it's fearful, Though it's deep, though it's dark And though you may lose the path, Though you may encounter wolves, You can't just act, You have to listen. You can't just act, You have to think. Though it's dark, There are always wolves, There are always spells, There are always beans, Or a giant dwells there. So into the woods you go again, You have to every now and then. Into the woods, no telling when, Be ready for the journey. Into the woods, but not too fast or what you wish, you lose at last. Into the woods, but mind the past. Into the woods, but mind the future. Into the woods, but not to stray, Or tempt the wolf, or steal from the giant-- The way is dark, The light is dim, But now there's you, me, her, and him. The chances look small, The choices look grim, But everything you learn there Will help when you return there. The light is getting dimmer. I think I see a glimmer-- Into the woods--you have to grope, But that's the way you learn to cope. Into the woods to find there's hope Of getting through the journey. Into the woods, each time you go, There's more to learn of what you know. Into the woods, but not too slow-- Into the woods, it's nearing midnight-- Into the woods to mind the wolf, To heed the witch, to honor the giant, To mind, to heed, to find, to think, to teach, to join, to go to the Festival! Into the woods, Into the woods, Into the woods, Then out of the woods-- And happy ever after!