Between Two Fields

These two fields a green sea-shore, the tide spilling

radiance across them, and who knows

where such waters rise? And I’d had years

in a dark land, looking: where did it, where did he

come from then? Only he’d been there

all along. Who though? who

was this marksman shooting off bolts

of sudden light? One and the same the lightning

hunter across the field, the hand to tilt

and spill the sea, who from the vaults

above the bright-voiced whistlers, the keen darting plovers,

brought down on me such quiet, such


Quiet: enough to rouse me. Up to that day

nothing had worked but the hot sun to get me going,

stir up drowsy warm verses: like blossom

on gorse that crackles in the ditches, or

like the army of dozy rushes, dreaming

of clear summer sky. But now: imagination

shakes off the night. Someone is shouting

(who?), Stand up and walk. Dance. Look.

Here is the world entire. And in the middle

of all the words, who is hiding? Like this

is how it was. There on the shores of light

between these fields, under these clouds.


Clouds: big clouds, pilgrims, refugees,

red with the evening sun of a November storm.

Down where the fields divide, and ash and maple

cluster, the wind’s sound, the sound of the deep,

is an abyss of silence. So who was it stood

there in the middle of this shameless glory, who

stood holding it all? Of every witness witness,

the memory of every memory, the life

of every life? who with a quiet word

calms the red storms of self, till all

the labours of the whole wide world

fold up into this silence.


And on the silent sea-floor of these fields,

his people stroll. Somewhere between them,

through them, around them, there is a new voice

rising and spilling from its hiding place

to hold them, a new voice, call it the poet’s

as it was for some of us, the little group

who’d been all day mounting assault

against the harvest with our forks, dragging

the roof-thatch over the heavy meadow. So near,

we came so near then to each other, the quiet huntsman

spreading his net around us.

Listen! you can

just catch his whistling, hear it?


Whistling, across the centuries of blood

on the grass, and the hard light of pain; whistling

only your heart hears. Who was it then, for God’s sake?

mocking our boasts, tracking our every trail and slipping past

all our recruiting sergeants? Don’t you know?

says the whistling, Don’t you remember?

don’t you recognise? it says; until we do.

And then, our ice age over, think of the force

of hearts released, springing together, think

of the fountains breaking out, reaching up

after the sky, and falling back, showers

of falling leaves, waters of autumn.


Think every day, under the sun,

under these clouds, think every night of this,

with every cell of your mind’s branching swelling shoots;

but with the quiet, the same quiet, the steady breath,

the steady gaze across the two fields, holding still

the vision: fair fields full of folk;

for it will come, dawn of his longed-for coming,

and what a dawn to long for. He will arrive, the outlaw,

the huntsman, the lost heir making good his claim

to no-man’s land, the exiled king

is coming home one day; the rushes sweep aside

to let him through.


Rowan Williams

From the Welsh of Waldo Williams’ ‘Mewn Dau Gae’

Back to top