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.
 
Chester
Chester
Anonymous
 
HOW charmed we pilgrims from the eager West,
  Where only life, and not its scene, is old,
Beside the hearth of Chester’s inn at rest,
  Her ancient story to each other told!
 
The holly-wreath and dial’s moon-orbed face,        5
  The Gothic tankard, crowned with beaded ale,
The faded aquatint of Chevy Chace,
  And heirloom bible, harmonized the tale.
 
Then roamed we forth as in a wondrous dream,
  Whose visions truth could only half eclipse;        10
The turret shadows living phantoms seem,
  And mill-sluice brawl the moan of ghostly lips.
 
Night and her planet their enchantments wove,
  To wake the brooding spirits of the past;
A Druid’s sickle glistened in the grove,        15
  And Harold’s war-cry died upon the blast.
 
The floating mist that hung on Brewer’s hill,
  (While every heart-beat seemed a sentry’s tramp,)
In tented domes and bannered folds grew still,
  As rose the psalm from Cromwell’s wary camp.        20
 
From ivied tower, above the meadows sere,
  We watched the fray with hunted Charles of yore,
When grappled Puritan and Cavalier,
  And sunk a traitor’s throne on Rowton moor.
 
We tracked the ramparts in the lunar gloom,        25
  Knelt by the peasants at St. Mary’s shrine;
With his own hermit mused at Parnell’s tomb,
  And breathed the cadence of his pensive line.
 
Beneath a gable mouldering and low,
  The pious record we could still descry,        30
Which, in the pestilence of old De Foe,
  Proclaimed that here death’s angel flitted by.
 
At morn the venders in the minster’s shade,
  With gleaming scales and plumage at their feet,
Seemed figures on the canvas of Ostade,        35
  Where mart and temple so benignly meet.
 
Of Holland whispered then the sullen barge,
  We thought of Venice by the hushed canal,
And hailed each relic on time’s voiceless marge,—
  Sepulchral lamp and clouded lachrymal.        40
 
The quaint arcades of traffic’s feudal range,
  And giant fossils of a lustier crew;
The diamond casements and the moated grange,
  Tradition’s lapsing fantasies renew.
 
The oaken effigies of buried earls,        45
  A window blazoned with armorial crest,
A rusted helm, and standard’s broidered furls,
  Chivalric eras patiently attest.
 
Here William’s castle frowns upon the tide;
  There holy Werburgh keeps aerial sway,        50
To warn the minions who complacent glide,
  And swell ambition’s retinue to-day.
 
Once more we sought the parapet, to gaze,
  And mark the hoar-frost glint along the dales;
Or, through the wind-cleft vistas of the haze,        55
  Welcome afar the mountain-ridge of Wales.
 
Ah, what a respite from the onward surge
  Of life, where all is turbulent and free,
To pause awhile upon the quiet verge
  Of olden memories, beside the Dee!        60
 
 
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