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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


Elegy Written at the Convent of Haut Villers, in Champagne, 1754

By William Whitehead (1715–1785)


SILENT and clear, through yonder peaceful vale,

While Marne’s slow waters weave their mazy way

See, to the exulting sun and fostering gale

What boundless treasures his rich banks display!

Fast by the stream, and at the mountain’s base,

The lowing herds through living pastures rove;

Wide-waving harvests crown the rising space,

And still superior nods the viny grove.

High on the top, as guardian of the scene,

Imperial Sylvan spreads his umbrage wide;

Nor wants there many a cot, and spire between,

Or in the vale or on the mountain’s side,

To mark that man, as tenant of the whole,

Claims the just tribute of his culturing care,

Yet pays to Heaven, in gratitude of soul,

The boon which Heaven accepts of, praise and prayer.

O, dire effects of war! the time has been

When Desolation vaunted here her reign;

One ravaged desert was yon beauteous scene,

And Marne ran purple to the frighted Seine.

Oft at his work the toilsome day to cheat

The swain still talks of those disastrous times,

When Guise’s pride and Condé’s ill-starred heat

Taught Christian zeal to authorize their crimes;

Oft to his children sportive on the grass

Does dreadful tales of worn Tradition tell,

Oft points to Epernay’s ill-fated pass

Where force thrice triumphed, and where Biron fell.

O, dire effects of war! may evermore

Through this sweet vale the voice of discord cease!

A British bard to Gallia’s fertile shore

Can wish the blessings of eternal peace.