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.
 
Introductory
France
William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
From “The Prelude

LIGHTLY equipped, and but a few brief looks
Cast on the white cliffs of our native shore
From the receding vessel’s deck, we chanced
To land at Calais on the very eve
Of that great federal day; and there we saw,        5
In a mean city, and among a few,
How bright a face is worn when joy of one
Is joy for tens of millions. Southward thence
We held our way, direct through hamlets, towns
Gaudy with relics of that festival,        10
Flowers left to wither on triumphal arcs,
And window-garlands. On the public roads,
And once three days successively through paths
By which our toilsome journey was abridged,
Among sequestered villages we walked,        15
And found benevolence and blessedness
Spread like a fragrance everywhere, when spring
Hath left no corner of the land untouched;
Where elms for many and many a league in files,
With their thin umbrage, on the stately roads        20
Of that great kingdom, rustled o’er our heads,
Forever near us as we paced along:
How sweet at such a time, with such delight
On every side, in prime of youthful strength,
To feed a poet’s tender melancholy        25
And fond conceit of sadness, with the sound
Of undulations varying as might please
The wind that swayed them; once, and more than once,
Unhoused beneath the evening star, we saw
Dances of liberty, and, in late hours        30
Of darkness, dances in the open air
Deftly prolonged, though gray-haired lookers-on
Might waste their breath in chiding.
 
 
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