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



By Oliver Goldsmith (1730–1774)

(From The Traveller)

TO kinder skies, where gentler manners reign,

I turn; and France displays her bright domain:

Gay, sprightly land of mirth and social ease,

Pleased with thyself, whom all the world can please,

How often have I led thy sportive choir,

With tuneless pipe, beside the murmuring Loire!

Where shading elms along the margin grew,

And freshened from the wave the zephyr flew;

And haply, though my harsh touch, faltering still,

But mocked all tune, and marred the dancer’s skill,

Yet would the village praise my wondrous power,

And dance, forgetful of the noontide hour.

Alike all ages. Dames of ancient days

Have led their children through the mirthful maze;

And the gay grandsire, skilled in gestic lore,

Has frisked beneath the burden of threescore.

So blest a life these thoughtless realms display,

Thus idly busy rolls their world away:

Theirs are those arts that mind to mind endear,

For honor forms the social temper here,—

Honor, that praise which real merit gains,

Or even imaginary worth obtains,

Here passes current; paid from hand to hand,

It shifts, in splendid traffic, round the land;

From courts to camps, to cottages it strays,

And all are taught an avarice of praise;

They please, are pleased, they give to get esteem,

Till, seeming blest, they grow to what they seem.