Two boards with a token roof, backed
Against the shelving hill, and a curtain
Of frayed sacking which the wind absently
Toyed with on the side toward the sea:
From that point already so remote that we
Continually caught ourselves talking in whispers
No path went on but only the still country
Unfolding as far as we could see
In the luminous dusk its land that had not been lived on
Ever, or not within living memory.

This less than shelter, then, was the last
Human contrivance for our encouragement
Improvised so hastily, it might have been
Thrown together only the moment
Before we arrived, yet so weathered,
Warped and parched, it must have stood there
Longer than we knew. And the ground before it
Was not scarred with the rawness of construction
Nor even beaten down by feet, but simply barren
As one felt it always had been: something between
Sand and red shale with only the spiky dune-grass
Growing, and a few trees stunted by wind.

Some as they arrived appeared to be carrying
Whole households strapped onto their shoulders,
Often with their tired children asleep
Among the upper baskets, and even
A sore dog limping behind them. Some
Were travelling light for the journey:
A knife and matches, and would sleep
In the clothes they stood up in. And there were
The barefoot ones, some from conviction
With staves, some from poverty with nothing.

Burdens and garments bore no relation
To the ages of the travellers; nor, as they sat
In spite of fatigue talking late
Into the night, to the scope and firmness
Of their intentions. It was, for example,
A patriarch herding six grandchildren
In his family, and who had carried
More than his own weight of gear all day
Who insisted that three days' journey inland
Would bring them to a sheltered valley
Along a slow river, where the clumsiest farmer
Would grow fat on the land’s three crops a year.