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


Description of Stonehenge

By Samuel Daniel (1562–1619)

(From Musophilus)

AND whereto serves that wondrous trophy now

That on the goodly plain near Walton stands?

That huge dumb heap, that cannot tell us how,

Nor what, nor whence it is, nor with whose hands

Nor for whose glory it was set to show

How much our pride mocks that of other lands.

Whereon, when as the gazing passenger

Had greedy looked with admiration,

And fain would know his birth, and what we were,

How there erected, and how long agon,

Inquires and asks his fellow-traveller

What he had heard, and his opinion.

And he knows nothing. Then he turns again,

And looks and sighs; and then admires afresh,

And in himself with sorrow doth complain

The misery of dark forgetfulness,

Angry with time that nothing should remain,

Our greatest wonders’ wonder to express.

Then Ignorance, with fabulous discourse,

Robbing fair art and cunning of their right,

Tells how those stones were, by the devil’s force,

From Afric brought to Ireland in a night;

And thence to Brittany, by magic course,

From giants’ hands redeemed by Merlin’s sleight.

And then near Ambri placed, in memory

Of all those noble Britons murdered there,

By Hengist and his Saxon treachery,

Coming to parley, in peace at unaware.

With this old legend then Credulity

Holds her content, and closes up her care.

But is Antiquity so great a liar?

Or do her younger sons her age abuse;

Seeing after-comers still so apt to admire

The grave authority that she doth use,

That reverence and respect dares not require

Proof of her deeds, or once her words refuse?

Yet wrong they did us, to presume so far

Upon our early credit and delight;

For once found false, they straight became to mar

Our faith, and their own reputation quite;

That now her truths hardly believéd are;

And though she avouch the right, she scarce hath right.

And as for thee, thou huge and mighty frame,

That stand’st corrupted so with time’s despite,

And giv’st false evidence against their fame,

That set thee there to testify their right;

And art become a traitor to their name,

That trusted thee with all the best they might,—

Thou shalt stand still belied and slandered,

The only gazing-stock of ignorance,

And by thy guile the wise, admonishéd,

Shall nevermore desire such hopes to advance,

Nor trust their living glory with the dead

That cannot speak, but leave their fame to chance.

Considering in how small a room do lie,

And yet lie safe (as fresh as if alive),

All those great worthies of antiquity,

Which long forelived thee, and shall long survive;

Who stronger tombs found for eternity,

Than could the powers of all the earth contrive.

Where they remain these trifles to upbraid,

Out of the reach of spoil and way of rage;

Though time with all his power of years hath laid

Long battery, backed with undermining age,

Yet they make head only with their own aid,

And war with his all-conquering forces wage;

Pleading the heaven’s prescription to be free,

And to have a grant to endure as long as he.