We held each other’s gazeAs daylight began to hazeMaybe an hour had passedAs the light turned to greyThe wind became restless thenI came to myself again‘God protect you’ she saidAnd turned away The image here is an interpretation of the song by Jac Rundell.
For a free set of the five pieces of art created for these songs, on 15cm x 10cm card, put your postal address below. Transcript (click to reveal)
Forest trails are part of my psyche. I was brought up on the edge of Craigie Woods on the banks of the river Ayr, and spent my childhood and adolescence in the company of the constantly changing but constant trees, particularly remembering the smells of squelchy autumns or crunchy autumns.
This song, however, appeared in my mind on another forest walk along the banks of the Forth in my current home of South Queensferry. What took my imagination was the idea of a chance encounter, left unexplained, that changes – even destroys – a man’s life. I wondered where it had come from.
It was only later I remembered William Butler Yeat’s Song of Wandering Aengus. Here the encounter seems less about chance than about fate, but in one moment Aengus’s life changes, and we hear it from him as an old man, his whole history determined by one supernatural intervention. A Forest Trail in Autumn (WAV, 33MB) A Forest Trail in Autumn (mp3, 5.6MB)
A Forest Trail in Autumn (stream) Forest Trail originally appeared on my album The Wolf Who Snared The Moon.
A Forest Trail in Autumn lyrics
It was in autumn time
The wind was a dusty line
Shifting the broken leaves
Under my feet
I walked a forest trail
The afternoon sky grew pale
A woman with grey-black hair
I chanced to meet
She had a stranger’s eye
Started to pass me by
I reached out and stopped her short
My hand on her arm
The wind whispered through the wood
I knew she understood
Better than me
I’d do her no harm
We held each other’s gaze
As daylight began to haze
Maybe an hour had passed
As the light turned to grey
The wind became restless then
I came to myself again
‘God protect you’ she said
And turned away
All through the winter freeze
Into the late spring breeze
I searched that forest trail
For a glimpse of her face
All through the summer’s light
I hid in my room till night
I could not sleep I could not eat
I went back to that place
Under a tree I sat
Close to that very spot
Where I once reached out my hand
I still don’t know why
Under the broken moon
Winter is coming soon
Under these falling leaves
I come and I cry.
The Song of Wandering Aengus – Norman Lamont
This is the poem by William Butler Yeats that inspired A Forest Trail.
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
I first heard the song in Donovan’s version, on his album HMS Donovan. There have been many musical settings of this poem. I even have another unrecorded one. Worth checking out are versions by Christy Moore and The Waterboys (sadly this one has an inexcusably long advert at the start).
This is my setting of the song, from my album All The Time In Heaven.