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.
 
Clisson
Clisson
Kenelm Henry Digby (1800–1880)
 
(Excerpt)

IT was a dark autumnal day
When first to Clisson I would stray;
The groves were clad in brown and green,
To suit the interval between
The parting friend and coming foe        5
So sure to lay their beauties low.
Thick hedge-rows, groves, and small rich fields,
The region that surrounds it yields;
Methought I spied at each brake pass
The peasants risen in a mass,        10
Intrenched within the pathless wood,
Where hostile legions were withstood
By rustics all like heroes now,
With sacred cause and holy vow.
 
But changed abruptly all I found,        15
Descending o’er a rugged ground;
Until I reached a deep ravine,
The Sèvre winding on between;
When suddenly there raised its head,
All spectral-like, quite causing dread,        20
The vast huge pile, so dark and hoary,
Whose checkered fame aye lives in story,
While stretched along and at its feet
I saw the village winding street
Far scattered up and down, and strange;        25
Just such as on some Alpine range
Will lead you to the welcome spot
Where soon fatigues are all forgot.
 
Long grass-grown steps cut o’er the rock
Which shelves down in a mighty block        30
Conduct you to the portals grand
Which green with ivy proudly stand.
There now, within these crumbling walls,
Lives recent Fame that pity calls,
When standing o’er that fatal well        35
Down whose dark depths the victims fell,
Who fought to stay an impious hand
And cruel despots to withstand.
Then on I strayed through towers vast
That now stand open to the blast,        40
All roofless, split on every side,
Where owls and bats can well abide,
Such canopies of creeping flowers
Combine with walls to make their bowers,
Through courts where huge trees cast a shade        45
As in some haunted forest glade,
Through many a grim, spacious room
Where all is desolation, gloom;
Each window still with iron barred,
As suiting manners stern and hard,        50
If possible, more dreary still,
From such left traces of the skill
Which fashioned all things that you see,
If not for pain, with mystery.
 
 
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