“The Forest Path” by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) was a Canadian author nowadays best known for her novel Anne of Green Gables. Even those who haven’t read the book about the charming red-haired orphan girl must have watched the very successful 1985 TV series by the same title or the more recent Netflix adaptation Anne with an E.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

Montgomery was a prolific author who wrote twenty novels, as well as hundreds of short stories and poems. Many of her works are set in her native Prince Edward Island off the east coast of Canada, known for scenic vistas and gorgeous sandy beaches. No wonder that nature, too, features prominently in Montgomery’s works.

In this post I will share her poem The Forest Path. As you are about to see, this work is greatly inspired by Greek mythology: the forest Montgomery describes is inhabited by various creatures known from classical antiquity. If you aren’t familiar with them, I’ve included the links to the corresponding Wikipedia entries, so you can do a bit of further reading.

As always in my poetry posts, there’s homework for English language learners: scroll down for a simple vocabulary exercise (answer key available).


Oh, the charm of idle dreaming
Where the dappled shadows dance,
All the leafy aisles are teeming
With the lure of old romance!

Down into the forest dipping,
Deep and deeper as we go,
One might fancy dryads slipping
Where the white-stemmed birches grow.

Lurking gnome and freakish fairy
In the fern may peep and hide…
Sure their whispers low and airy
Ring us in on every side!

Saw you where the pines are rocking
Nymph's white shoulder as she ran?
Lo, that music faint and mocking,
Is it not a pipe of Pan?

Hear you that elusive laughter
Of the hidden waterfall?
Nay, a satyr speeding after
Ivy-crowned bacchanal.

Far and farther as we wander
Sweeter shall our roaming be,
Come, for dim and winsome yonder
Lies the path to Arcady!

VOCABULARY EXERCISE

Match the adjectives highlighted in the poem above with the following definitions and/or synonyms:

  • not easy to find; secret
  • very strange and abnormal; unusual and unexpected
  • attractive in a sweet, charming and innocent way
  • vague, not strong or clear
  • covered with spots or patches of different colour from the background
  • delicate and graceful; refined; atmospheric
  • difficult to reach, achieve, describe or remember
  • not bright or clear; obscure
  • lazy; not working; without purpose

To check if you got everything right, have a look at the answer key.

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