Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Extracts from The Earthly Paradise: The Castle on the Island (from The Lady of the Land)
By William Morris (1834–1896)
 
  AND there a lovely cloistered court he found,
A fountain in the midst o’erthrown and dry,
And in the cloister briers twining round
The slender shafts; the wondrous imagery
Outworn by more than many years gone by;        5
Because the country people, in their fear
Of wizardry, had wrought destruction here;
 
And piteously these fair things had been maimed;
There stood great Jove, lacking his head of might;
Here was the archer, swift Apollo, lamed;        10
The shapely limbs of Venus hid from sight
By weeds and shards; Diana’s ankles light
Bound with the cable of some coasting ship;
And rusty nails through Helen’s maddening lip.
 
Therefrom unto the chambers did he pass,        15
And found them fair still, midst of their decay,
Though in them now no sign of man there was,
And everything but stone had passed away
That made them lovely in that vanished day;
Nay, the mere walls themselves would soon be gone        20
And nought be left but heaps of mouldering stone.
 
But he, when all the place he had gone o’er
And with much trouble clomb the broken stair,
And from the topmost turret seen the shore
And his good ship drawn up at anchor there,        25
Came down again, and found a crypt most fair
Built wonderfully beneath the greatest hall,
And there he saw a door within the wall,
 
Well-hinged, close shut; nor was there in that place
Another on its hinges, therefore he        30
Stood there and pondered for a little space,
And thought: “Perchance some marvel I shall see,
For surely here some dweller there must be,
Because this door seems whole and new and sound,
While nought but ruin I can see around.”        35
 
So with that word, moved by a strong desire,
He tried the hasp, that yielded to his hand,
And in a strange place, lit as by a fire
Unseen but near, he presently did stand;
And by an odorous breeze his face was fanned,        40
As though in some Arabian plain he stood,
Anigh the border of a spice-tree wood.
 
 
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