Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
 
Salisbury Plain
Sarum
William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
From “The Prelude

                            TO a hope
Not less ambitious once, among the wilds
Of Sarum’s Plain, my youthful spirit was raised;
There, as I ranged at will the pastoral downs
Trackless and smooth, or paced the bare white roads        5
Lengthening in solitude their dreary line,
Time with his retinue of ages fled
Backwards, nor checked his flight until I saw
Our dim ancestral past in vision clear;—
Saw multitudes of men, and here and there        10
A single Briton clothed in wolf-skin vest,
With shield and stone-axe, stride across the wold;
The voice of spears was heard,—the rattling spear
Shaken by arms of mighty bone, in strength,
Long mouldered, of barbaric majesty.        15
I called on Darkness; but before the word
Was uttered, midnight darkness seemed to take
All objects from my sight; and lo! again
The desert visible by dismal flames:
It is the sacrificial altar, fed        20
With living men,—how deep the groans! the voice
Of those that crowd the giant wicker thrills
The monumental hillocks, and the pomp
Is for both worlds, the living and the dead.
At other moments (for through that wide waste        25
Three summer days I roamed) where’er the Plain
Was figured o’er with circles, lines, or mounds,
That yet survive,—a work, as some divine,
Shaped by the Druids, so to represent
Their knowledge of the heavens, and image forth        30
The constellations,—gently was I charmed
Into a waking dream, a reverie
That, with believing eyes, where’er I turned,
Beheld long-bearded teachers, with white wands
Uplifted, pointing to the starry sky,        35
Alternately, and plain below, while breath
Of music swayed their motions, and the waste
Rejoiced with them and me in those sweet sounds.
 
 
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