Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
From “The Earthly Paradise.” VI. A Land Across the Sea
 
William Morris (1834–96)
 
 
ACROSS the sea a land there is,
  Where, if fate will, men may have bliss,
For it is fair as any land:
There hath the reaper a full hand,
While in the orchard hangs aloft        5
The purple fig, a-growing soft;
And fair the trellis’d vine-bunches
Are swung across the high elm-trees;
And in the rivers great fish play,
While over them pass day by day        10
The laden barges to their place.
There maids are straight, and fair of face,
And men are stout for husbandry,
And all is well as it can be
Upon this earth where all has end.        15
  For on them God is pleas’d to send
The gift of Death down from above,
That envy, hatred, and hot love,
Knowledge with hunger by his side,
And avarice and deadly pride,        20
There may have end like everything
Both to the shepherd and the king:
Lest this green earth become but hell
If folk thereon should ever dwell.
  Full little most men think of this,        25
But half in woe and half in bliss
They pass their lives, and die at last
Unwilling, though their lot be cast
In wretched places of the earth,
Where men have little joy from birth        30
Until they die; in no such case
Were those who till’d this pleasant place.
  There soothly men were loth to die,
Though sometimes in his misery
A man would say “Would I were dead!”        35
Alas! full little likelyhead
That he should live forever there.
  So folk within that country fair
Liv’d on unable to forget
The long’d-for things they could not get,        40
And without need tormenting still
Each other with some bitter ill;
Yea, and themselves too, growing gray
With dread of some long-lingering day,
That never came ere they were dead        45
With green sods growing on the head;
Nowise content with what they had,
But falling still from good to bad
While hard they sought the hopeless best;
And seldom happy or at rest        50
Until at last with lessening blood
One foot within the grave they stood.
 

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