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

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

By Charlotte Smith (1749–1806)

(From Beachy Head)

HAUNTS of my youth!

Scenes of fond day-dreams, I behold ye yet!

Where ’t was so pleasant by thy northern slopes,

To climb the winding sheep-path, aided oft

By scattered thorns, whose spiny branches bore

Small woolly tufts, spoils of the vagrant lamb,

There seeking shelter from the noonday sun;

And pleasant, seated on the short soft turf,

To look beneath upon the hollow way,

While heavily upward moved the laboring wain,

And stalking slowly by, the sturdy hind,

To ease his panting team, stopped with a stone

The grating wheel.
Advancing higher still,

The prospect widens, and the village church

But little o’er the lowly roofs around

Bears its gray belfry, and its simple vane;

Those lowly roofs of thatch are half-concealed

By the rude arms of trees, lovely in spring;

When on each bough the rosy-tinctured bloom

Sits thick, and promises autumnal plenty.

For even those orchards round the Norman farms,

Which, as their owners mark the promised fruit,

Console them, for the vineyards of the South

Surpass not these.
Where woods of ash and beech,

And partial copses fringe the green hill-foot,

The upland shepherd rears his modest home;

There wanders by a little nameless stream

That from the hill wells forth, bright now and clear,

Or after rain with chalky mixture gray,

But still refreshing in its shallow course

The cottage garden, most for use designed,

Yet not of beauty destitute. The vine

Mantles the little casement; yet the brier

Drops fragrant dew among the July flowers;

And pansies rayed, and freaked and mottled pinks,

Grow among balm and rosemary and rue.

There honeysuckles flaunt and roses blow

Almost uncultured; some with dark green leaves

Contrast their flowers of pure unsullied white;

Others, like velvet robes of regal state

Of richest crimson; while, in thorny moss

Enshrined and cradled, the most lovely wear

The hues of youthful beauty’s glowing cheek.

With fond regret I recollect e’en now

In spring and summer, what delight I felt

Among these cottage gardens, and how much

Such artless nosegays, knotted with a rush

By village housewife or her ruddy maid,

Were welcome to me, soon and simply pleased.

An early worshipper at Nature’s shrine,

I loved her rudest scenes,—warrens and heaths,

And yellow commons, and birch-shaded hollows,

And hedge-rows bordering unfrequented lanes,

Bowered with wild roses and the clasping woodbine.