Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
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Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
 
Hilaire Belloc. 1870–
 
72. The South Country
 
WHEN I am living in the Midlands 
  That are sodden and unkind, 
I light my lamp in the evening: 
  My work is left behind; 
And the great hills of the South Country         5
  Come back into my mind. 
  
The great hills of the South Country 
  They stand along the sea; 
And it's there walking in the high woods 
  That I could wish to be,  10
And the men that were boys when I was a boy 
  Walking along with me. 
  
The men that live in North England 
  I saw them for a day: 
Their hearts are set upon the waste fells,  15
  Their skies are fast and grey; 
From their castle-walls a man may see 
  The mountains far away. 
  
The men that live in West England 
  They see the Severn strong,  20
A-rolling on rough water brown 
  Light aspen leaves along. 
They have the secret of the Rocks, 
  And the oldest kind of song. 
  
But the men that live in the South Country  25
  Are the kindest and most wise, 
They get their laughter from the loud surf, 
  And the faith in their happy eyes 
Comes surely from our Sister the Spring 
  When over the sea she flies;  30
The violets suddenly bloom at her feet, 
  She blesses us with surprise. 
  
I never get between the pines 
  But I smell the Sussex air; 
Nor I never come on a belt of sand  35
  But my home is there. 
And along the sky the line of the Downs 
  So noble and so bare. 
  
A lost thing could I never find, 
  Nor a broken thing mend:  40
And I fear I shall be all alone 
  When I get towards the end. 
Who will there be to comfort me 
  Or who will be my friend? 
  
I will gather and carefully make my friends  45
  Of the men of the Sussex Weald; 
They watch the stars from silent folds, 
  They stiffly plough the field. 
By them and the God of the South Country 
  My poor soul shall be healed.  50
  
If I ever become a rich man, 
  Or if ever I grow to be old, 
I will build a house with deep thatch 
  To shelter me from the cold, 
And there shall the Sussex songs be sung  55
  And the story of Sussex told. 
  
I will hold my house in the high wood 
  Within a walk of the sea, 
And the men that were boys when I was a boy 
  Shall sit and drink with me.  60
 
 
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