by James Stephens (1882 - 1950)

The goat paths
Language: English 
The crooked paths go every way 
Upon the hill -- they wind about 
Through the heather in and out 
Of the quiet sunniness. 
And there the goats, day after day, 
Stray in sunny quietness. 
Cropping here and cropping there, 
As they pause and turn and pass. 
Now a bit of heather spray, 
Now a mouthful of the grass. 
In the deeper sunniness, 
In the place where nothing stirs. 

Quietly in quietness.
In the quiet of the furze. 
For a time they come and lie 
Staring on the roving sky. 
If you approach they run away. 
They leap and stare, away they bound. 
With a sudden angry sound, 
To the sunny quietude ; 
Crouching down where nothing stirs 
In the silence of the furze, 
Couching down again to brood 
In the sunny solitude. 

If I were as wise as they 
I would stray apart and brood, 
I would beat a hidden way 
Through the quiet heather spray 
To a sunny solitude; 
And should you come I'd run away, 
I would make an angry sound, 
I would stare and turn and bound 
To the deeper quietude. 
To the place where nothing stirs 
In the silence of the furze. 

In that airy quietness 
I would think as long as they ; 
Through the quiet sunniness 
I would stray away to brood 
By a hidden beaten way 
In a sunny solitude. 
I would think until I found 
Something I can never find, 
Something lying on the ground, 
In the bottom of my mind. 


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website: 2009-01-22 00:00:00
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:03:05
Line count: 45
Word count: 248