Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
Widdecombe Church
Noel Thomas Carrington (1777–1830)
(From Dartmoor)

                FAR o’er hill and dale
Their summons glad the Sabbath-bells had flung;—
From hill and dale obedient they had sped
Who heard the holy welcoming; and now
They stood above the venerable dead        5
Of centuries, and bowed where they had bowed
Who slept below. The simple touching tones
Of England’s psalmody upswelled, and all,
With lip and heart united, loudly sang
The praises of the Highest. But anon,        10
Harsh mingling with that minstrelsy, was heard
The fitful blast;—the pictured windows shook,—
Around the aged tower the rising gale
Shrill whistled; and the ancient massive doors
Swung on their jarring hinges. Then—at once—        15
Fell an unnatural calm, and with it came
A fearful gloom, deepening and deepening, fill
’T was dark as night’s meridian; for the cloud,
Descending, had within its bosom wrapt
The fated dome. At first a herald flash        20
Just chased the darkness, and the thunder spoke,
Breaking the strange tranquillity. But soon
Pale horror reigned,—the mighty tempest burst
In wrath appalling;—forth the lightning sprang,
And death came with it, and the living writhed        25
In that dread flame-sheet.
                            Clasped by liquid fire,
Bereft of hope, they madly said the hour
Of final doom was nigh, and soul and sense
Wild reeled; and, shrieking, on the sculptured floor
Some helpless sank; and others watched each flash        30
With haggard look and frenzied eye, and cowered
At every thunder-stroke. Again a power
Unseen dealt death around! In speechless awe
The boldest stood; and when the sunny ray,
Glancing again on river, field, and wood,        35
Had chased the tempest, and they drank once more
The balmy air, and saw the bow of God,
His token to the nations, throwing wide
Its arch of mercy o’er the freshened earth,
How welcome was that light, that breeze, that bow!        40
And O, how deep the feeling that awoke
To Heaven the hymn of thankfulness and joy!

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