Not only how far away, but the way that you say it
Is very important. Perhaps You may never get
The knack of judging a distance, but at least you know
How to report on a landscape: the central sector,
The right of the arc and that, which we had last Tuesday,
And at least you know
That maps are of time, not place, so far as the army
Happens to be concerned-- the reason being,
Is one which need not delay us. Again, you know
There are three kinds of tree, three only, the fir and the poplar,
And those which have bushy tops to; and lastly
That things only seem to be things.
A barn is not called a barn, to put it more plainly,
Or a field in the distance, where sheep may be safely grazing.
You must never be over-sure. You must say, when reporting:
At five o'clock in the central sector is a dozen
Of what appear to be animals; whatever you do,
Don't call the bleeders sheep.
I am sure that's quite clear; and suppose, for the sake of example,
The one at the end, asleep, endeavors to tell us
What he sees over there to the west, and how far away,
After first having come to attention. There to the west,
Of the fields of the summer sun and the shadows bestow
Vestments of purple and gold.
The white dwellings are like a mirage in the heat,
And under the swaying elms a man and a woman
Lie gently together. Which is, perhaps, only to say
That there is a row of houses to the left of the arc,
And that under some poplars a pair of what appear to be humans
Appear to be loving.
Well that, for an answer, is what we rightly call
Moderately satisfactory only, the reason being,
Is that two things have been ommitted, and those are very important.
The human beings, now: in what direction are they,
And how far away, would you say? And do not forget
There may be dead ground in between.
There may be dead ground in between; and I may not have got
The knack of judging a distance; I will only venture
A guess that perhaps between me and the apparent lovers,
(Who, incidentally, appear by now to have finished,)
At seven o'clock from the houses, is roughly a distance
Of about one year and a half.
Henry Reed's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Judging Distances by Henry Reed )
- Emptiness Of A Full Suitcase, Arno Le Roux
- Sree Budha, Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
- Little Planet, Kazuko Shiraishi
- For you, shall never I be old, Saheb Mohapatra
- Because I love you much, Saheb Mohapatra
- God, it's the man speaking, Saheb Mohapatra
- Zoos, Gangadharan nair Pulingat..
- How would be my last breathe?, Saheb Mohapatra
- Fall, Frank Avon
- LIMERICK-2 (Saloon day), Saheb Mohapatra
Poem of the Day
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Home And Love, Robert William Service
- Death is Nothing at All, Henry Scott Holland
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Hedgehog, Paul Muldoon
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1679 - 1718)
(8 August 1884 – 29 January 1933)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)