Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. V. Browning to Rupert Brooke
 
Extracts from The Earthly Paradise: Michael’s Ride (from The Man born to be King)
By William Morris (1834–1896)
 
  LONG time he rode, till suddenly,
When now the sun was broad and high,
From out a hollow where the yew
Still guarded patches of the dew,
He rode and saw that he had won        5
That highland’s edge, and gazed upon
A valley that beneath the haze
Of that most fair of autumn days
Showed glorious; fair with golden sheaves
Rich with the darkened autumn-leaves,        10
Gay with the water-meadows green,
The bright blue streams that lay between,
The miles of beauty stretched away
From that bleak hill-side bare and grey,
Till white cliffs over slopes of vine        15
Drew ’gainst the sky a broken line.
And ’twixt the vineyards and the stream
Michael saw gilded spirelets gleam;
For, hedged with many a flowery close,
There lay the Castle of the Rose,        20
His hurried journey’s aim and end.
 
  Then downward he began to wend,
And ’twixt the flowery hedges sweet
He heard the hook smite down the wheat,
And murmur of the unseen folk;        25
But when he reached the stream that broke
The golden plain, but leisurely
He passed the bridge; for he could see
The masters of that ripening realm,
Cast down beneath an ancient elm        30
Upon a little strip of grass,
From hand to hand the pitcher pass,
While on the turf beside them lay
The ashen-handled sickles grey,
The matters of their cheer between:        35
Slices of white cheese, specked with green,
And green-striped onions and ryebread,
And summer apples faintly red
Even beneath the crimson skin;
And yellow grapes, well ripe and thin,        40
Plucked from the cottage gable-end.
 
  And certes Michael felt their friend,
Hearing their voices, nor forgot
His boyhood and the pleasant spot
Beside the well-remembered stream;        45
And friendly did this water seem
As through its white-flowered weeds it ran
Bearing good things to beast and man.
 
 
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