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


Clifton Grove

By Henry Kirke White (1785–1806)

LO! in the west fast fades the lingering light,

And day’s last vestige takes its silent flight.

No more is heard the woodman’s measured stroke

Which with the dawn from yonder dingle broke;

No more, hoarse clamoring o’er the uplifted head,

The crows, assembling seek their wind-rocked bed.

Stilled is the village hum,—the woodland sounds

Have ceased to echo o’er the dewy grounds,

And general silence reigns, save when below

The murmuring Trent is scarcely heard to flow;

And save when, swung by ’nighted rustic late,

Oft on its hinge rebounds the jarring gate;

Or when the sheep-bell, in the distant vale,

Breathes its wild music on the downy gale.

Now, when the rustic wears the social smile,

Released from day and its attendant toil,

And draws his household round their evening fire,

And tells the oft-told tales that never tire;

Or where the town’s blue turrets dimly rise,

And manufacture taints the ambient skies,

The pale mechanic leaves the laboring loom,

The air-pent hold, the pestilential room,

And rushes out, impatient to begin

The stated course of customary sin:

Now, now, my solitary way I bend

Where solemn groves in awful state impend,

And cliffs, that boldly rise above the plain,

Bespeak, blest Clifton! thy sublime domain.

Here, lonely wandering o’er the sylvan bower,

I come to pass the meditative hour;

To bid awhile the strife of passion cease,

And woo the calms of solitude and peace.


This gloomy alcove, darkling to the sight,

Where meeting trees create eternal night,

Save when from yonder stream the sunny ray

Reflected gives a dubious gleam of day,

Recalls endearing to my altered mind

Times when beneath the boxen hedge reclined

I watched the lapwing to her clamorous brood,

Or lured the robin to its scattered food,

Or woke with song the woodland echo wild,

And at each gay response, delighted, smiled.

How oft, when childhood threw its golden ray

Of gay romance o’er every happy day,

Here would I run, a visionary boy,

When the hoarse tempest shook the vaulted sky,

And, fancy-led, beheld the Almighty’s form

Sternly careering on the eddying storm;

And heard, while awe congealed my inmost soul,

His voice terrific in the thunders roll.

With secret joy, I viewed with vivid glare

The volleyed lightnings cleave the sullen air;

And, as the warring winds around reviled,

With awful pleasure big, I heard and smiled.


Now as I rove where wide the prospect grows,

A livelier light upon my vision flows.

No more above the embracing branches meet,

No more the river gurgles at my feet,

But seen deep down the cliff’s impending side,

Through hanging woods now gleams its silver tide.

Dim is my upland path; across the Green

Fantastic shadows fling, yet oft between

The checkered glooms the moon her chaste ray sheds

Where knots of bluebells droop their graceful heads

And beds of violets blooming mid the trees

Load with waste fragrance the nocturnal breeze.


How lovely from this hill’s superior height

Spreads the wide view before my straining sight!

O’er many a varied mile of lengthening ground,

E’en to the blue-ridged hills’ remotest bound,

My ken is borne, while o’er my head serene

The silver moon illumes the misty scene,

Now shining clear, now darkening in the glade,

In all the soft varieties of shade.

Behind me, lo! the peaceful hamlet lies.

The drowsy god has sealed the cotter’s eyes.

No more, where late the social fagot blazed,

The vacant peal resounds, by little raised:

But locked in silence, o’er Orion’s star

The slumbering night rolls on her velvet car;

The church-bell tolls, deep sounding down the glade,

The solemn hour, for walking spectres made;

The simple plough-boy, wakening with the sound,

Listens aghast, and turns him startled round,

Then stops his ears, and strives to close his eyes,

Lest at the sound some grisly ghost should rise.

Now ceased the long, the monitory toll,

Returning silence stagnates in the soul;

Save when disturbed by dreams, with wild affright,

The deep-mouthed mastiff bays the troubled night,

Or, where the village alehouse crowns the vale,

The creaking sign-post whistles to the gale.

A little onward let me bend my way,

Where the mossed seat invites the traveller’s stay.

That spot, O yet it is the very same!

That hawthorn gives it shade, and gave it name;

There yet the primrose opes its earliest bloom,

There yet the violet sheds its first perfume,

And in the branch that rears above the rest

The robin unmolested builds its nest.


Now passed whate’er the upland heights display,

Down the steep cliff I wind my devious way;

Oft rousing, as the rustling path I beat,

The timid hare from its accustomed seat.

And O how sweet this walk o’erhung with wood,

That winds the margin of the solemn flood!

What rural objects steal upon the sight!

What rising views prolong the calm delight!

The brooklet branching from the silver Trent,

The whispering birch by every zephyr bent,

The woody island, and the naked mead,

The lowly hut half hid in groves of reed,

The rural wicket, and the rural stile,

And frequent interspersed the woodman’s pile.

Above, below, where’er I turn my eyes,

Rocks, waters, woods, in grand succession rise.

High up the cliff the varied groves ascend,

And mournful larches o’er the wave impend.