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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


A Summer-Evening Churchyard

By Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)

Lechlade, Gloucestershire

THE WIND has swept from the wide atmosphere

Each vapor that obscured the sunset’s ray;

And pallid Evening twines its beaming hair

In duskier braids around the languid eyes of Day.

Silence and Twilight, unbeloved of men,

Creep hand in hand from yon obscurest glen.

They breathe their spells toward the departing day,

Encompassing the earth, air, stars, and sea;

Light, sound, and motion own the potent sway,

Responding to the charm with its own mystery.

The winds are still, or the dry church-tower grass

Knows not their gentle motions as they pass.

Thou too, aerial pile, whose pinnacles

Point from one shrine like pyramids of fire,

Obeyest in silence their sweet solemn spells,

Clothing in hues of heaven thy dim and distant spire,

Around whose lessening and invisible height

Gather among the stars the clouds of night.

The dead are sleeping in their sepulchres;

And, mouldering as they sleep, a thrilling sound,

Half sense, half thought, among the darkness stirs,

Breathed from their wormy beds all living things around;

And, mingling with the still night and mute sky,

Its awful hush is felt inaudibly.

Thus solemnized and softened, death is mild

And terrorless as this serenest night;

Here could I hope, like some inquiring child

Sporting on graves, that death did hide from human sight

Sweet secrets, or beside its breathless sleep

That loveliest dreams perpetual watch did keep.