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.
 
St. Germain-en-Laye
The Terrace of St. Germain
Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)
 
THE STATELIEST walk which man hath made—
  Imperial Rome no equal shows—
Is that which casts a league of shade
  Where Seine amidst her meadows flows.
 
Spring clothes its cyclopean wall        5
  Of living forest every year,
And Autumn drapes a splendid pall
  For Nature as the days grow drear.
 
And though it was the hand of Art
  Which shaped and wrought the royal plan,        10
Yet Nature brought her nobler part
  To dignify the work of man.
 
It sweeps athwart the level hill,
  As if for giant footsteps meant;
What king but here might gaze his fill,        15
  And pace the mighty path content!
 
Yet here a kingly exile came,
  To brood on sorrows day by day;
Of daughters who abjured his name,
  And three fair kingdoms passed away.        20
 
A dark and melancholy soul
  His pictures show, as if he saw
The writing of some fatal scroll,
  The sentence of some ruthless law;
 
And knew his father’s blood had made        25
  A vain libation for the race,
Whose last lone son should lay his head
  Uncrowned within the sacred place
 
Where nations worship, and should owe
  Unto the king who wore his crown,        30
Canova’s tomb of moulded snow,
  And words whereby his state is known.
 
Sad English ghost! whose line decayed
  On English page scarce owns a friend!
With what pathetic steps ye tread        35
  The lordly walk from end to end!
 
 
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