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



By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

From “The Prelude

LIGHTLY equipped, and but a few brief looks

Cast on the white cliffs of our native shore

From the receding vessel’s deck, we chanced

To land at Calais on the very eve

Of that great federal day; and there we saw,

In a mean city, and among a few,

How bright a face is worn when joy of one

Is joy for tens of millions. Southward thence

We held our way, direct through hamlets, towns

Gaudy with relics of that festival,

Flowers left to wither on triumphal arcs,

And window-garlands. On the public roads,

And once three days successively through paths

By which our toilsome journey was abridged,

Among sequestered villages we walked,

And found benevolence and blessedness

Spread like a fragrance everywhere, when spring

Hath left no corner of the land untouched;

Where elms for many and many a league in files,

With their thin umbrage, on the stately roads

Of that great kingdom, rustled o’er our heads,

Forever near us as we paced along:

How sweet at such a time, with such delight

On every side, in prime of youthful strength,

To feed a poet’s tender melancholy

And fond conceit of sadness, with the sound

Of undulations varying as might please

The wind that swayed them; once, and more than once,

Unhoused beneath the evening star, we saw

Dances of liberty, and, in late hours

Of darkness, dances in the open air

Deftly prolonged, though gray-haired lookers-on

Might waste their breath in chiding.