Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Belgium: Bruges


By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

(From The Poet’s Pilgrimage)

THE SEASON of her splendor is gone by,

Yet everywhere its monuments remain:

Temples which rear their stately heads on high,

Canals that intersect the fertile plain,

Wide streets and squares, with many a court and hall,

Spacious and undefaced, but ancient all.

Time hath not wronged her, nor hath Ruin sought

Rudely her splendid structures to destroy,

Save in those recent days with evil fraught,

When Mutability, in drunken joy

Triumphant, and from all restraint released,

Let loose the fierce and many-headed beast.

But for the scars in that unhappy rage

Inflicted, firm she stands and undecayed;

Like our first sires’, a beautiful old age

Is hers, in venerable years arrayed;

And yet to her benignant stars may bring

What fate denies to man,—a second spring.

When I may read of tilts in days of old,

And tourneys graced by chieftains of renown,

Fair dames, grave citizens, and warriors bold,

If Fancy would portray some stately town,

Which for such pomp fit theatre should be,

Fair Bruges, I shall then remember thee.

Nor did thy landscape yield me less delight,

Seen from the deck as slow it glided by,

Or when beneath us, from thy Belfry’s height,

Its boundless circle met the bending sky;

The waters smooth and straight, thy proper boast,

And lines of roadside trees in long perspective lost.

No happier landscape may on earth be seen,

Rich gardens all around and fruitful groves,

White dwellings trim relieved with lively green,

The pollard that the Flemish painter loves,

With aspens tall and poplars fair to view,

Casting o’er all the land a gray and willowy hue.