Martin Robertson

Now and Then

Los Altos Hills

On the high hill, in sun-bright scrub,

the path wound under trees

a big loop, and then

out into a space of powerful slopes,

grass long and burnt silver, bounded

by clumped, huge close-leaved trees, green and dark.

Something like an English parkland

but bigger, wilder, stronger,


The path went on and on

irresistibly leading

like a path in a ballad or a story

leading the wandering traveller

(the youngest son, the chosen man)

at last suddenly across an unmarked border,

thralled by a hand

beautiful, inhuman,

the Queen of fair Elfland.

I am not for her

nor need fear her, holding you in my heart,

your presence at my side in this your land.

But still the path tempted me on.

And suddenly I reached a board:

“End of Reserve.  Private land beyond.

Do not trespass”.

The unbroken path whispered, but I did not trespass,

turned back, wondering

if this perhaps were the border of the worlds

masquerading behind the notice.

We walked together back under the trees.