Edward Thomas

The New Year

He was the one man I met up in the woods
That stormy New year’s morning; and at first sight,
Fifty yards off, I could not tell how much
Of the strange tripod was a man. His body,
Bowed horizontal, was supported equally
By legs at one end, by a rake at the other:
Thus he rested, far less like a man than
His wheel-barrow in profile was like a pig.
But when I saw it was an old man bent,
At the same moment came into my mind
The games at which boys bend thus, High-Cockalorum,
Or Fly-the-garter, and Leap-frog. At the sound
Of footsteps he began to straighten himself;
His head rolled under his cape like a tortoise’s;
He took an unlit pipe out of his mouth
Politely ere I wished him ‘A Happy New Year’,
And with his head cast upward sideways muttered —
So far as I could hear through the trees’ roar —
‘Happy New year, and may it come fastish, too,’
While I strode by and he turned to raking leaves.