Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > France
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X.  1876–79.
 
Loire, the River
The Loire
William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
From “The Prelude

ALONG that very Loire, with festal mirth
Resounding at all hours, and innocent yet
Of civil slaughter, was our frequent walk;
Or in wide forests of continuous shade,
Lofty and overarched, with open space        5
Beneath the trees, clear footing many a mile,—
A solemn region. Oft amid those haunts
From earnest dialogues I slipped in thought,
And let remembrance steal to other times,
When o’er those interwoven roots, moss-clad,        10
And smooth as marble or a waveless sea,
Some hermit, from his cell forth strayed, might pace
In sylvan meditation undisturbed;
As on the pavement of a Gothic church
Walks a lone monk, when service hath expired,        15
In peace and silence. But if e’er was heard—
Heard, though unseen—a devious traveller,
Retiring or approaching from afar
With speed, and echoes loud of trampling hoofs
From the hard floor reverberated, then        20
It was Angelica thundering through the woods
Upon her palfrey, or that gentle maid
Erminia, fugitive as fair as she.
Sometimes methought I saw a pair of knights
Joust underneath the trees, that as in storm        25
Rocked high above their heads; anon, the din
Of boisterous merriment, and music’s roar,
In sudden proclamation, burst from haunt
Of Satyrs in some viewless glade, with dance
Rejoicing o’er a female in the midst,        30
A mortal beauty, their unhappy thrall.
The width of those huge forests, unto me
A novel scene, did often in this way
Master my fancy while I wandered on
With that revered companion. And sometimes,—        35
When to a convent in a meadow green,
By a brookside, we came, a roofless pile,
And not by reverential touch of Time
Dismantled, but by violence abrupt,—
In spite of those heart-bracing colloquies,        40
In spite of real fervor, and of that
Less genuine and wrought up within myself,—
I could not but bewail a wrong so harsh,
And for the matin-bell to sound no more
Grieved, and the twilight taper, and the cross        45
High on the topmost pinnacle, a sign
(How welcome to the weary traveller’s eyes!)
Of hospitality and peaceful rest.
And when the partner of those varied walks
Pointed upon occasion to the site        50
Of Romorentin, home of ancient kings,
To the imperial edifice of Blois,
Or to that rural castle, name now slipped
From my remembrance, where a lady lodged,
By the first Francis wooed, and bound to him        55
In chains of mutual passion, from the tower,
As a tradition of the country tells,
Practised to commune with her royal knight
By cressets and love-beacons, intercourse
’Twixt her high-seated residence and his        60
Far off at Chambord on the plain beneath;
Even here, though less than with the peaceful house
Religious, mid those frequent monuments
Of kings, their vices and their better deeds,
Imagination, potent to inflame        65
At times with virtuous wrath and noble scorn
Did also often mitigate the force
Of civic prejudice, the bigotry,
So call it, of a youthful patriot’s mind;
And on these spots with many gleams I looked        70
Of chivalrous delight.
 
 
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