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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Belgium: Bruges

Incident at Bruges

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

IN Bruges town is many a street

Whence busy life hath fled;

Where, without hurry, noiseless feet

The grass-grown pavement tread.

There heard we, halting in the shade

Flung from a convent-tower,

A harp that tuneful prelude made

To a voice of thrilling power.

The measure, simple truth to tell,

Was fit for some gay throng;

Though from the same grim turret fell

The shadow and the song.

When silent were both voice and chords,

The strain seemed doubly dear,

Yet sad as sweet,—for English words

Had fallen upon the ear.

It was a breezy hour of eve;

And pinnacle and spire

Quivered and seemed almost to heave,

Clothed with innocuous fire;

But, where we stood, the setting sun

Showed little of his state;

And, if the glory reached the nun,

’T was through an iron grate.

Not always is the heart unwise,

Nor pity idly born,

If even a passing stranger sighs

For them who do not mourn.

Sad is thy doom, self-solaced dove,

Captive, whoe’er thou be!

O, what is beauty, what is love,

And opening life to thee?

Such feeling pressed upon my soul,

A feeling sanctified

By one soft trickling tear that stole

From the maiden at my side;

Less tribute could she pay than this,

Borne gayly o’er the sea,

Fresh from the beauty and the bliss

Of English liberty?