Best Famous England Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous England poems. This is a select list of the best famous England poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous England poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of england poems.

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12
Written by Rudyard Kipling | Create an image from this poem

The Land

 When Julius Fabricius, Sub-Prefect of the Weald,
In the days of Diocletian owned our Lower River-field,
He called to him Hobdenius-a Briton of the Clay,
Saying: "What about that River-piece for layin'' in to hay?"

And the aged Hobden answered: "I remember as a lad
My father told your father that she wanted dreenin' bad.
An' the more that you neeglect her the less you'll get her clean.
Have it jest as you've a mind to, but, if I was you, I'd dreen.
" So they drained it long and crossways in the lavish Roman style-- Still we find among the river-drift their flakes of ancient tile, And in drouthy middle August, when the bones of meadows show, We can trace the lines they followed sixteen hundred years ago.
Then Julius Fabricius died as even Prefects do, And after certain centuries, Imperial Rome died too.
Then did robbers enter Britain from across the Northern main And our Lower River-field was won by Ogier the Dane.
Well could Ogier work his war-boat --well could Ogier wield his brand-- Much he knew of foaming waters--not so much of farming land.
So he called to him a Hobden of the old unaltered blood, Saying: "What about that River-piece; she doesn't look no good?" And that aged Hobden answered "'Tain't for me not interfere.
But I've known that bit o' meadow now for five and fifty year.
Have it jest as you've a mind to, but I've proved it time on ' time, If you want to change her nature you have got to give her lime!" Ogier sent his wains to Lewes, twenty hours' solemn walk, And drew back great abundance of the cool, grey, healing chalk.
And old Hobden spread it broadcast, never heeding what was in't.
-- Which is why in cleaning ditches, now and then we find a flint.
Ogier died.
His sons grew English-Anglo-Saxon was their name-- Till out of blossomed Normandy another pirate came; For Duke William conquered England and divided with his men, And our Lower River-field he gave to William of Warenne.
But the Brook (you know her habit) rose one rainy autumn night And tore down sodden flitches of the bank to left and right.
So, said William to his Bailiff as they rode their dripping rounds: "Hob, what about that River-bit--the Brook's got up no bounds? " And that aged Hobden answered: "'Tain't my business to advise, But ye might ha' known 'twould happen from the way the valley lies.
Where ye can't hold back the water you must try and save the sile.
Hev it jest as you've a mind to, but, if I was you, I'd spile!" They spiled along the water-course with trunks of willow-trees, And planks of elms behind 'em and immortal oaken knees.
And when the spates of Autumn whirl the gravel-beds away You can see their faithful fragments, iron-hard in iron clay.
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Georgii Quinti Anno Sexto, I, who own the River-field, Am fortified with title-deeds, attested, signed and sealed, Guaranteeing me, my assigns, my executors and heirs All sorts of powers and profits which-are neither mine nor theirs, I have rights of chase and warren, as my dignity requires.
I can fish-but Hobden tickles--I can shoot--but Hobden wires.
I repair, but he reopens, certain gaps which, men allege, Have been used by every Hobden since a Hobden swapped a hedge.
Shall I dog his morning progress o'er the track-betraying dew? Demand his dinner-basket into which my pheasant flew? Confiscate his evening faggot under which my conies ran, And summons him to judgment? I would sooner summons Pan.
His dead are in the churchyard--thirty generations laid.
Their names were old in history when Domesday Book was made; And the passion and the piety and prowess of his line Have seeded, rooted, fruited in some land the Law calls mine.
Not for any beast that burrows, not for any bird that flies, Would I lose his large sound council, miss his keen amending eyes.
He is bailiff, woodman, wheelwright, field-surveyor, engineer, And if flagrantly a poacher--'tain't for me to interfere.
"Hob, what about that River-bit?" I turn to him again, With Fabricius and Ogier and William of Warenne.
"Hev it jest as you've a mind to, but"-and here he takes com- mand.
For whoever pays the taxes old Mus' Hobden owns the land.
Written by John Betjeman | Create an image from this poem

Diary of a Church Mouse

 Here among long-discarded cassocks,
Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks,
Here where the vicar never looks
I nibble through old service books.
Lean and alone I spend my days Behind this Church of England baize.
I share my dark forgotten room With two oil-lamps and half a broom.
The cleaner never bothers me, So here I eat my frugal tea.
My bread is sawdust mixed with straw; My jam is polish for the floor.
Christmas and Easter may be feasts For congregations and for priests, And so may Whitsun.
All the same, They do not fill my meagre frame.
For me the only feast at all Is Autumn's Harvest Festival, When I can satisfy my want With ears of corn around the font.
I climb the eagle's brazen head To burrow through a loaf of bread.
I scramble up the pulpit stair And gnaw the marrows hanging there.
It is enjoyable to taste These items ere they go to waste, But how annoying when one finds That other mice with pagan minds Come into church my food to share Who have no proper business there.
Two field mice who have no desire To be baptized, invade the choir.
A large and most unfriendly rat Comes in to see what we are at.
He says he thinks there is no God And yet he comes .
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it's rather odd.
This year he stole a sheaf of wheat (It screened our special preacher's seat), And prosperous mice from fields away Come in to hear our organ play, And under cover of its notes Ate through the altar's sheaf of oats.
A Low Church mouse, who thinks that I Am too papistical, and High, Yet somehow doesn't think it wrong To munch through Harvest Evensong, While I, who starve the whole year through, Must share my food with rodents who Except at this time of the year Not once inside the church appear.
Within the human world I know Such goings-on could not be so, For human beings only do What their religion tells them to.
They read the Bible every day And always, night and morning, pray, And just like me, the good church mouse, Worship each week in God's own house, But all the same it's strange to me How very full the church can be With people I don't see at all Except at Harvest Festival.
Written by Edna St Vincent Millay | Create an image from this poem

Travel

 I should like to rise and go 
Where the golden apples grow;-- 
Where below another sky 
Parrot islands anchored lie, 
And, watched by cockatoos and goats, 
Lonely Crusoes building boats;-- 
Where in sunshine reaching out 
Eastern cities, miles about, 
Are with mosque and minaret 
Among sandy gardens set, 
And the rich goods from near and far 
Hang for sale in the bazaar;-- 
Where the Great Wall round China goes, 
And on one side the desert blows, 
And with the voice and bell and drum, 
Cities on the other hum;-- 
Where are forests hot as fire, 
Wide as England, tall as a spire, 
Full of apes and cocoa-nuts 
And the negro hunters' huts;-- 
Where the knotty crocodile 
Lies and blinks in the Nile, 
And the red flamingo flies 
Hunting fish before his eyes;-- 
Where in jungles near and far, 
Man-devouring tigers are, 
Lying close and giving ear 
Lest the hunt be drawing near, 
Or a comer-by be seen 
Swinging in the palanquin;-- 
Where among the desert sands 
Some deserted city stands, 
All its children, sweep and prince, 
Grown to manhood ages since, 
Not a foot in street or house, 
Not a stir of child or mouse, 
And when kindly falls the night, 
In all the town no spark of light.
There I'll come when I'm a man With a camel caravan; Light a fire in the gloom Of some dusty dining-room; See the pictures on the walls, Heroes fights and festivals; And in a corner find the toys Of the old Egyptian boys.
Written by Philip Larkin | Create an image from this poem

I Remember I Remember

 Coming up England by a different line
For once, early in the cold new year,
We stopped, and, watching men with number plates
Sprint down the platform to familiar gates,
'Why, Coventry!' I exclaimed.
'I was born here.
' I leant far out, and squinnied for a sign That this was still the town that had been 'mine' So long, but found I wasn't even clear Which side was which.
From where those cycle-crates Were standing, had we annually departed For all those family hols? .
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A whistle went: Things moved.
I sat back, staring at my boots.
'Was that,' my friend smiled, 'where you "have your roots"?' No, only where my childhood was unspent, I wanted to retort, just where I started: By now I've got the whole place clearly charted.
Our garden, first: where I did not invent Blinding theologies of flowers and fruits, And wasn't spoken to by an old hat.
And here we have that splendid family I never ran to when I got depressed, The boys all biceps and the girls all chest, Their comic Ford, their farm where I could be 'Really myself'.
I'll show you, come to that, The bracken where I never trembling sat, Determined to go through with it; where she Lay back, and 'all became a burning mist'.
And, in those offices, my doggerel Was not set up in blunt ten-point, nor read By a distinguished cousin of the mayor, Who didn't call and tell my father There Before us, had we the gift to see ahead - 'You look as though you wished the place in Hell,' My friend said, 'judging from your face.
' 'Oh well, I suppose it's not the place's fault,' I said.
'Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.
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Written by Alice Walker | Create an image from this poem

EACH ONE, PULL ONE

(Thinking of Lorraine Hansberry)


We must say it all, and as clearly
Trying to bury us.
As we can.
For, even before we are dead, Were we black? Were we women? Were we gay? Were we the wrong shade of black? Were we yellow? Did we, God forbid, love the wrong person, country? Or politics? Were we Agnes Smedley or John Brown? But, most of all, did we write exactly what we saw, As clearly as we could? Were we unsophisticated Enough to cry and scream? Well, then, they will fill our eyes, Our ears, our noses and our mouths With the mud Of oblivion.
They will chew up Our fingers in the night.
They will pick Their teeth with our pens.
They will sabotage Both our children And our art.
Because when we show what we see, They will discern the inevitable: We do not worship them.
We do not worship them.
We do not worship what they have made.
We do not trust them.
We do not believe what they say.
We do not love their efficiency.
Or their power plants.
We do not love their factories.
Or their smog.
We do not love their television programs.
Or their radioactive leaks.
We find their papers boring.
We do not worship their cars.
We do not worship their blondes.
We do not worship their penises.
We do not think much Of their Renaissance We are indifferent to England.
We have grave doubts about their brains.
In short, we who write, paint, sculpt, dance Or sing Share the intelligence and thus the fate Of all our people In this land.
We are not different from them, Neither above nor below, Outside nor inside.
We are the same.
And we do not worship them.
We do not worship them.
We do not worship their movies.
We do not worship their songs.
We do not think their newscasts Cast the news.
We do not admire their president.
We know why the White House is white.
We do not find their children irresistible; We do not agree they should inherit the earth.
But lately you have begun to help them Bury us.
You who said: King was just a womanizer; Malcom, just a thug; Sojourner, folksy; Hansberry, A traitor (or whore, depending); Fannie Lou Hamer, merely spunky; Zora Hurston, Nella Larsen, Toomer: reactionary, brainwashed, spoiled by whitefolks, minor; Agnes Smedley, a spy.
I look into your eyes; You are throwing in the dirt.
You, standing in the grave With me.
Stop it! Each one must pull one.
Look, I, temporarily on the rim Of the grave, Have grasped my mother's hand My father's leg.
There is the hand of Robeson Langston's thigh Zora's arm and hair Your grandfather's lifted chin And lynched woman's elbow What you've tried to forget Of your grandmother's frown.
Each one, pull one back into the sun We who have stood over So many graves Know that no matter what they do All of us must live Or none.
Written by Matthew Arnold | Create an image from this poem

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! Only, from the long line of spray Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land, Listen! you hear the grating roar Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, At their return, up the high strand, Begin, and cease, and then again begin, With tremulous cadence slow, and bring The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago Heard it on the {AE}gean, and it brought Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow Of human misery; we Find also in the sound a thought, Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, Retreating, to the breath Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true To one another! for the world, which seems To lie before us like a land of dreams, So various, so beautiful, so new, Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; And we are here as on a darkling plain Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

London 1802

 Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness.
We are selfish men; Oh! raise us up, return to us again; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart: Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, So didst thou travel on life's common way, In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
Written by Rudyard Kipling | Create an image from this poem

For All We Have And Are

 For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The Hun is at the gate! Our world has passed away In wantonness o'erthrown.
There is nothing left to-day But steel and fire and stone! Tough all we knew depart, The old Commandments stand: -- "In courage keep your heart, In strength lift up your hand.
" Once more we hear the word That sickened earth of old: -- "No law except the Sword Unsheathed and uncontrolled.
" Once more it knits mankind, Once more the nations go To meet and break and bind A crazed and driven foe.
Comfort, content, delight, The ages' slow-bought gain, They shrivelled in a night.
Only ourselves remain To face the naked days In silent fortitude, Through perils and dismays Renewed and re-renewed.
Though all we made depart, The old Commandments stand: -- "In patience keep your heart, In strength lift up your hand.
" No easy hope or lies Shall bring us to our goal, But iron sacrifice Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all -- One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall? Who dies if England live?
Written by William Vaughn Moody | Create an image from this poem

An Ode in Time of Hesitation

 After seeing at Boston the statue of Robert Gould Shaw, killed while storming Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863, at the head of the first enlisted negro regiment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts.
I Before the solemn bronze Saint Gaudens made To thrill the heedless passer's heart with awe, And set here in the city's talk and trade To the good memory of Robert Shaw, This bright March morn I stand, And hear the distant spring come up the land; Knowing that what I hear is not unheard Of this boy soldier and his negro band, For all their gaze is fixed so stern ahead, For all the fatal rhythm of their tread.
The land they died to save from death and shame Trembles and waits, hearing the spring's great name, And by her pangs these resolute ghosts are stirred.
II Through street and mall the tides of people go Heedless; the trees upon the Common show No hint of green; but to my listening heart The still earth doth impart Assurance of her jubilant emprise, And it is clear to my long-searching eyes That love at last has might upon the skies.
The ice is runneled on the little pond; A telltale patter drips from off the trees; The air is touched with southland spiceries, As if but yesterday it tossed the frond Of pendant mosses where the live-oaks grow Beyond Virginia and the Carolines, Or had its will among the fruits and vines Of aromatic isles asleep beyond Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
III Soon shall the Cape Ann children shout in glee, Spying the arbutus, spring's dear recluse; Hill lads at dawn shall hearken the wild goose Go honking northward over Tennessee; West from Oswego to Sault Sainte-Marie, And on to where the Pictured Rocks are hung, And yonder where, gigantic, wilful, young, Chicago sitteth at the northwest gates, With restless violent hands and casual tongue Moulding her mighty fates, The Lakes shall robe them in ethereal sheen; And like a larger sea, the vital green Of springing wheat shall vastly be outflung Over Dakota and the prairie states.
By desert people immemorial On Arizonan mesas shall be done Dim rites unto the thunder and the sun; Nor shall the primal gods lack sacrifice More splendid, when the white Sierras call Unto the Rockies straightway to arise And dance before the unveiled ark of the year, Sounding their windy cedars as for shawms, Unrolling rivers clear For flutter of broad phylacteries; While Shasta signals to Alaskan seas That watch old sluggish glaciers downward creep To fling their icebergs thundering from the steep, And Mariposa through the purple calms Gazes at far Hawaii crowned with palms Where East and West are met, -- A rich seal on the ocean's bosom set To say that East and West are twain, With different loss and gain: The Lord hath sundered them; let them be sundered yet.
IV Alas! what sounds are these that come Sullenly over the Pacific seas, -- Sounds of ignoble battle, striking dumb The season's half-awakened ecstasies? Must I be humble, then, Now when my heart hath need of pride? Wild love falls on me from these sculptured men; By loving much the land for which they died I would be justified.
My spirit was away on pinions wide To soothe in praise of her its passionate mood And ease it of its ache of gratitude.
Too sorely heavy is the debt they lay On me and the companions of my day.
I would remember now My country's goodliness, make sweet her name.
Alas! what shade art thou Of sorrow or of blame Liftest the lyric leafage from her brow, And pointest a slow finger at her shame? V Lies! lies! It cannot be! The wars we wage Are noble, and our battles still are won By justice for us, ere we lift the gage.
We have not sold our loftiest heritage.
The proud republic hath not stooped to cheat And scramble in the market-place of war; Her forehead weareth yet its solemn star.
Here is her witness: this, her perfect son, This delicate and proud New England soul Who leads despisèd men, with just-unshackled feet, Up the large ways where death and glory meet, To show all peoples that our shame is done, That once more we are clean and spirit-whole.
VI Crouched in the sea fog on the moaning sand All night he lay, speaking some simple word From hour to hour to the slow minds that heard, Holding each poor life gently in his hand And breathing on the base rejected clay Till each dark face shone mystical and grand Against the breaking day; And lo, the shard the potter cast away Was grown a fiery chalice crystal-fine Fulfilled of the divine Great wine of battle wrath by God's ring-finger stirred.
Then upward, where the shadowy bastion loomed Huge on the mountain in the wet sea light, Whence now, and now, infernal flowerage bloomed, Bloomed, burst, and scattered down its deadly seed, -- They swept, and died like freemen on the height, Like freemen, and like men of noble breed; And when the battle fell away at night By hasty and contemptuous hands were thrust Obscurely in a common grave with him The fair-haired keeper of their love and trust.
Now limb doth mingle with dissolvèd limb In nature's busy old democracy To flush the mountain laurel when she blows Sweet by the southern sea, And heart with crumbled heart climbs in the rose: -- The untaught hearts with the high heart that knew This mountain fortress for no earthly hold Of temporal quarrel, but the bastion old Of spiritual wrong, Built by an unjust nation sheer and strong, Expugnable but by a nation's rue And bowing down before that equal shrine By all men held divine, Whereof his band and he were the most holy sign.
VII O bitter, bitter shade! Wilt thou not put the scorn And instant tragic question from thine eye? Do thy dark brows yet crave That swift and angry stave -- Unmeet for this desirous morn -- That I have striven, striven to evade? Gazing on him, must I not deem they err Whose careless lips in street and shop aver As common tidings, deeds to make his cheek Flush from the bronze, and his dead throat to speak? Surely some elder singer would arise, Whose harp hath leave to threaten and to mourn Above this people when they go astray.
Is Whitman, the strong spirit, overworn? Has Whittier put his yearning wrath away? I will not and I dare not yet believe! Though furtively the sunlight seems to grieve, And the spring-laden breeze Out of the gladdening west is sinister With sounds of nameless battle overseas; Though when we turn and question in suspense If these things be indeed after these ways, And what things are to follow after these, Our fluent men of place and consequence Fumble and fill their mouths with hollow phrase, Or for the end-all of deep arguments Intone their dull commercial liturgies -- I dare not yet believe! My ears are shut! I will not hear the thin satiric praise And muffled laughter of our enemies, Bidding us never sheathe our valiant sword Till we have changed our birthright for a gourd Of wild pulse stolen from a barbarian's hut; Showing how wise it is to cast away The symbols of our spiritual sway, That so our hands with better ease May wield the driver's whip and grasp the jailer's keys.
VIII Was it for this our fathers kept the law? This crown shall crown their struggle and their ruth? Are we the eagle nation Milton saw Mewing its mighty youth, Soon to possess the mountain winds of truth, And be a swift familiar of the sun Where aye before God's face his trumpets run? Or have we but the talons and the maw, And for the abject likeness of our heart Shall some less lordly bird be set apart? -- Some gross-billed wader where the swamps are fat? Some gorger in the sun? Some prowler with the bat? IX Ah no! We have not fallen so.
We are our fathers' sons: let those who lead us know! 'T was only yesterday sick Cuba's cry Came up the tropic wind, "Now help us, for we die!" Then Alabama heard, And rising, pale, to Maine and Idaho Shouted a burning word.
Proud state with proud impassioned state conferred, And at the lifting of a hand sprang forth, East, west, and south, and north, Beautiful armies.
Oh, by the sweet blood and young Shed on the awful hill slope at San Juan, By the unforgotten names of eager boys Who might have tasted girls' love and been stung With the old mystic joys And starry griefs, now the spring nights come on, But that the heart of youth is generous, -- We charge you, ye who lead us, Breathe on their chivalry no hint of stain! Turn not their new-world victories to gain! One least leaf plucked for chaffer from the bays Of their dear praise, One jot of their pure conquest put to hire, The implacable republic will require; With clamor, in the glare and gaze of noon, Or subtly, coming as a thief at night, But surely, very surely, slow or soon That insult deep we deeply will requite.
Tempt not our weakness, our cupidity! For save we let the island men go free, Those baffled and dislaureled ghosts Will curse us from the lamentable coasts Where walk the frustrate dead.
The cup of trembling shall be drainèd quite, Eaten the sour bread of astonishment, With ashes of the hearth shall be made white Our hair, and wailing shall be in the tent; Then on your guiltier head Shall our intolerable self-disdain Wreak suddenly its anger and its pain; For manifest in that disastrous light We shall discern the right And do it, tardily.
-- O ye who lead, Take heed! Blindness we may forgive, but baseness we will smite.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

The Talking Oak

 Once more the gate behind me falls; 
Once more before my face 
I see the moulder'd Abbey-walls, 
That stand within the chace.
Beyond the lodge the city lies, Beneath its drift of smoke; And ah! with what delighted eyes I turn to yonder oak.
For when my passion first began, Ere that, which in me burn'd, The love, that makes me thrice a man, Could hope itself return'd; To yonder oak within the field I spoke without restraint, And with a larger faith appeal'd Than Papist unto Saint.
For oft I talk'd with him apart And told him of my choice, Until he plagiarized a heart, And answer'd with a voice.
Tho' what he whisper'd under Heaven None else could understand; I found him garrulously given, A babbler in the land.
But since I heard him make reply Is many a weary hour; 'Twere well to question him, and try If yet he keeps the power.
Hail, hidden to the knees in fern, Broad Oak of Sumner-chace, Whose topmost branches can discern The roofs of Sumner-place! Say thou, whereon I carved her name, If ever maid or spouse, As fair as my Olivia, came To rest beneath thy boughs.
--- "O Walter, I have shelter'd here Whatever maiden grace The good old Summers, year by year Made ripe in Sumner-chace: "Old Summers, when the monk was fat, And, issuing shorn and sleek, Would twist his girdle tight, and pat The girls upon the cheek, "Ere yet, in scorn of Peter's-pence, And number'd bead, and shrift, Bluff Harry broke into the spence And turn'd the cowls adrift: "And I have seen some score of those Fresh faces that would thrive When his man-minded offset rose To chase the deer at five; "And all that from the town would stroll, Till that wild wind made work In which the gloomy brewer's soul Went by me, like a stork: "The slight she-slips of royal blood, And others, passing praise, Straight-laced, but all-too-full in bud For puritanic stays: "And I have shadow'd many a group Of beauties, that were born In teacup-times of hood and hoop, Or while the patch was worn; "And, leg and arm with love-knots gay About me leap'd and laugh'd The modish Cupid of the day, And shrill'd his tinsel shaft.
"I swear (and else may insects prick Each leaf into a gall) This girl, for whom your heart is sick, Is three times worth them all.
"For those and theirs, by Nature's law, Have faded long ago; But in these latter springs I saw Your own Olivia blow, "From when she gamboll'd on the greens A baby-germ, to when The maiden blossoms of her teens Could number five from ten.
"I swear, by leaf, and wind, and rain, (And hear me with thine ears,) That, tho' I circle in the grain Five hundred rings of years--- "Yet, since I first could cast a shade, Did never creature pass So slightly, musically made, So light upon the grass: "For as to fairies, that will flit To make the greensward fresh, I hold them exquisitely knit, But far too spare of flesh.
" Oh, hide thy knotted knees in fern, And overlook the chace; And from thy topmost branch discern The roofs of Sumner-place.
But thou, whereon I carved her name, That oft hast heard my vows, Declare when last Olivia came To sport beneath thy boughs.
"O yesterday, you know, the fair Was holden at the town; Her father left his good arm-chair, And rode his hunter down.
"And with him Albert came on his.
I look'd at him with joy: As cowslip unto oxlip is, So seems she to the boy.
"An hour had past---and, sitting straight Within the low-wheel'd chaise, Her mother trundled to the gate Behind the dappled grays.
"But as for her, she stay'd at home, And on the roof she went, And down the way you use to come, She look'd with discontent.
"She left the novel half-uncut Upon the rosewood shelf; She left the new piano shut: She could not please herseif "Then ran she, gamesome as the colt, And livelier than a lark She sent her voice thro' all the holt Before her, and the park.
"A light wind chased her on the wing, And in the chase grew wild, As close as might be would he cling About the darling child: "But light as any wind that blows So fleetly did she stir, The flower, she touch'd on, dipt and rose, And turn'd to look at her.
"And here she came, and round me play'd, And sang to me the whole Of those three stanzas that you made About my Ôgiant bole;' "And in a fit of frolic mirth She strove to span my waist: Alas, I was so broad of girth, I could not be embraced.
"I wish'd myself the fair young beech That here beside me stands, That round me, clasping each in each, She might have lock'd her hands.
"Yet seem'd the pressure thrice as sweet As woodbine's fragile hold, Or when I feel about my feet The berried briony fold.
" O muffle round thy knees with fern, And shadow Sumner-chace! Long may thy topmost branch discern The roofs of Sumner-place! But tell me, did she read the name I carved with many vows When last with throbbing heart I came To rest beneath thy boughs? "O yes, she wander'd round and round These knotted knees of mine, And found, and kiss'd the name she found, And sweetly murmur'd thine.
"A teardrop trembled from its source, And down my surface crept.
My sense of touch is something coarse, But I believe she wept.
"Then flush'd her cheek with rosy light, She glanced across the plain; But not a creature was in sight: She kiss'd me once again.
"Her kisses were so close and kind, That, trust me on my word, Hard wood I am, and wrinkled rind, But yet my sap was stirr'd: "And even into my inmost ring A pleasure I discern'd, Like those blind motions of the Spring, That show the year is turn'd.
"Thrice-happy he that may caress The ringlet's waving balm--- The cushions of whose touch may press The maiden's tender palm.
"I, rooted here among the groves But languidly adjust My vapid vegetable loves With anthers and with dust: "For ah! my friend, the days were brief Whereof the poets talk, When that, which breathes within the leaf, Could slip its bark and walk.
"But could I, as in times foregone, From spray, and branch, and stem, Have suck'd and gather'd into one The life that spreads in them, "She had not found me so remiss; But lightly issuing thro', I would have paid her kiss for kiss, With usury thereto.
" O flourish high, with leafy towers, And overlook the lea, Pursue thy loves among the bowers But leave thou mine to me.
O flourish, hidden deep in fern, Old oak, I love thee well; A thousand thanks for what I learn And what remains to tell.
" ÔTis little more: the day was warm; At last, tired out with play, She sank her head upon her arm And at my feet she lay.
"Her eyelids dropp'd their silken eaves I breathed upon her eyes Thro' all the summer of my leaves A welcome mix'd with sighs.
"I took the swarming sound of life--- The music from the town--- The murmurs of the drum and fife And lull'd them in my own.
"Sometimes I let a sunbeam slip, To light her shaded eye; A second flutter'd round her lip Like a golden butterfly; "A third would glimmer on her neck To make the necklace shine; Another slid, a sunny fleck, From head to ankle fine, "Then close and dark my arms I spread, And shadow'd all her rest--- Dropt dews upon her golden head, An acorn in her breast.
"But in a pet she started up, And pluck'd it out, and drew My little oakling from the cup, And flung him in the dew.
"And yet it was a graceful gift--- I felt a pang within As when I see the woodman lift His axe to slay my kin.
"I shook him down because he was The finest on the tree.
He lies beside thee on the grass.
O kiss him once for me.
"O kiss him twice and thrice for me, That have no lips to kiss, For never yet was oak on lea Shall grow so fair as this.
' Step deeper yet in herb and fern, Look further thro' the chace, Spread upward till thy boughs discern The front of Sumner-place.
This fruit of thine by Love is blest, That but a moment lay Where fairer fruit of Love may rest Some happy future day.
I kiss it twice, I kiss it thrice, The warmth it thence shall win To riper life may magnetise The baby-oak within.
But thou, while kingdoms overset, Or lapse from hand to hand, Thy leaf shall never fail, nor yet Thine acorn in the land.
May never saw dismember thee, Nor wielded axe disjoint, That art the fairest-spoken tree From here to Lizard-point.
O rock upon thy towery-top All throats that gurgle sweet! All starry culmination drop Balm-dews to bathe thy feet! All grass of silky feather grow--- And while he sinks or swells The full south-breeze around thee blow The sound of minster bells.
The fat earth feed thy branchy root, That under deeply strikes! The northern morning o'er thee shoot, High up, in silver spikes! Nor ever lightning char thy grain, But, rolling as in sleep, Low thunders bring the mellow rain, That makes thee broad and deep! And hear me swear a solemn oath, That only by thy side Will I to Olive plight my troth, And gain her for my bride.
And when my marriage morn may fall, She, Dryad-like, shall wear Alternate leaf and acorn-ball In wreath about her hair.
And I will work in prose and rhyme, And praise thee more in both Than bard has honour'd beech or lime, Or that Thessalian growth, In which the swarthy ringdove sat, And mystic sentence spoke; And more than England honours that, Thy famous brother-oak, Wherein the younger Charles abode Till all the paths were dim, And far below the Roundhead rode, And humm'd a surly hymn.
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