Thursday, 26 April 2012

W is for Way through the Woods


Path through the woods.  Pierre Auguste Renoir (1874)

THEY shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

(Rudyard Kipling)

About two years ago, I got involved in some play testing for Open Design's Courts of the ShadowfeyI had enough time and cash to become a patron and got the opportunity to contribute fairly actively on the design.  At the early stages we bandied about a lot of ideas for how the thing should work - what made is strangely fey, what people feared about the fey and so on.  The picture and poem combo above was a trigger point for me. 

For anyone not aware of Wolfgang Baur's work and his inspirational patronage system, I beg you to take a look if you are at all interested in RPG design.  It offers a unique platform for development within a defined structure and I found it an incredibly helpful experience.  I would (and will, when funds allow) contribute again.

That, however, is not the entire point of this post. 

The other point is that looking for the way through the woods is a kind of symbol for the hunt for inspiration.  That moment when the spark hits.  All of us look for it.  All of us recognise it when it hits.  I'm not sure you can force it, but I am sure that continually looking doesn't hurt.  You never know what the trigger will be.  Mine tend to be images and words.

Ways through the woods.  So elusive, so rewarding, so frustrating. 


  1. Ok, I must be a heathen, but I do not like that picture of the woods. For some reason I find it rather oppressive? And the fact there is no visible path for the eye to follow bothers me too. Am I going paranoid in my dotage?

    1. Hang on... yes, I do see a path. Bollocks! Didn't have my glasses on - my apologies.

    2. That's exactly why I loved it combined with that particular poem :) It's not a pretty wood.

  2. You have done a great job on the A to Z Challenge...
    Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
    A to Z Co-Host
    My New Book:
    Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

    1. Thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated.

  3. Loved the Rudyard Kipling poem. That's one I've not read before. To me there is something hauntingly wonderful about the woods. Great post!

    1. I have ambivilent feelings about poetry. I don't think I like it much, but keep going back to it. That one I have always loved though, along with a lot of other Kipling.

  4. I'm not familiar with Wolfgang Baur nor Rudyard Kipling but I did like that poem and what it represents, something that doesn't seem to be there yet is hidden waiting to be found. I suppose my triggers would be music and words.

    Blog: The Madlab Post
    *Rockin' the A to Z in April!*
    @MadlabPost on Twitter

    1. Nice to meet you.

      Obviously I'd recommend both Kipling and Baur (not a sentence I ever imagined writing, but there you are). Kipling is certainly well worth a look if words inspire you. He's a great writer (try The Jungle Books).

  5. This is the kind of poem I could read over and over and get something new out of it each time...

    And I like the "..way through the woods is a kind of symbol for the hunt for inspiration" and I would agree.

    1. Agreed completely on the poem. The inspiration thing nearly went under S for Snark, but this seemed a better fit.

  6. The picture and poem are poignant - and your last paragraph really hits the mark; as does the last line.

    I get my inspirations from images and from words as well and I think continually looking for those things that inspire us is part of our journey.

    Wonderful "W" post.

    Jenny @ Pearson Report
    Co-Host of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

    1. Thank you!

      I had real doubts about this post. I knew where it needed to go, but not how to get there.