A Walk to Wales

My lover’s father whisked her off
   To Tenby by the sea;
She’d slipped a note inside my coat
   To tell me where they’d be —
            But what were miles to me?

I’d hitch and hike my way to Wales,
   Though not for Wales to see,
My love waxed hot — who cared a jot
   For sun or sand or sea?
            And what was Wales to me?

From Northwood Hills I rode to Slough
   Where Betjeman made his plea,
Then lost the thread at Maidenhead
   And slept at Newbury —
            Though what was sleep to me?

I climbed the Horse at Uffington,
   (My map had lost its key),
My compass gone, I struggled on
   And made for Malmsbury —
            For what were maps to me?

I stowed aboard an early train
   To ease my odyssey,
But then I slept and could have wept
   To wake up in Torquay —
            Yet what were trains to me?

Two long and weary nights I trudged,
   (It rained incessantly),
Nights full of howls, the screech of owls,
   And eyes in every tree —
            But what were eyes to me?
At last I breasted Offa’s Dyke
   A half-mad refugee,
I’d gone astray at Colwyn Bay
   By way of Tetbury —
            Though what were hills to me?

I crossed a ford in flood, barefoot,
   Barbed wire had cut my knee,
I slipped and fell and in the swell,
   A shoe swept out to sea —
            But what were shoes to me?

A rat-faced farmer packed me off,
   (And not in charity):
“Oi’ll fix yer hash, yer tinker trash.
   Oi’ll set me dogs on thee!”—
            But what were threats to me?

Upon a crutch, in blood-stiff rags,
   Nigh on an amputee,
I staggered down to Tenby town
   My lovely Jane to see —
            For what were wounds to me?

Her father laughed, her mother smirked,
   They fed me cakes and tea:
“Jane’s got engaged!” I wept and raged
   And cursed the powers that be —
            For what was life to me?

He drove me back to Northwood Hills,
   Shook hands: “Goodbye,” says he;
Her letter sat upon the mat,
   She wrote most courteously —
            But what were words to me?

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