Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Upon Eckington Bridge, River Avon
By Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch (1863–1944)
 
O PASTORAL heart of England! like a psalm
  Of green days telling with a quiet beat—
O wave into the sunset flowing calm!
  O tirèd lark descending on the wheat!
Lies it all peace beyond that western fold        5
  Where now the lingering shepherd sees his star
Rise upon Malvern? Paints an Age of Gold
    Yon cloud with prophecies of linkèd ease—
    Lulling this Land, with hills drawn up like knees,
  To drowse beside her implements of war?        10
 
Man shall outlast his battles. They have swept
  Avon from Naseby Field to Severn Ham;
And Evesham’s dedicated stones have stepp’d
  Down to the dust with Montfort’s oriflamme.
Nor the red tear nor the reflected tower        15
  Abides; but yet these eloquent grooves remain,
Worn in the sandstone parapet hour by hour
    By labouring bargemen where they shifted ropes.
    E’en so shall man turn back from violent hopes
  To Adam’s cheer, and toil with spade again.        20
 
Ay, and his mother Nature, to whose lap
  Like a repentant child at length he hies,
Not in the whirlwind or the thunder-clap
  Proclaims her more tremendous mysteries:
But when in winter’s grave, bereft of light,        25
  With still, small voice divinelier whispering
—Lifting the green head of the aconite,—
    Feeding with sap of hope the hazel-shoot—
    She feels God’s finger active at the root,
  Turns in her sleep, and murmurs of the Spring.        30
 
 
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