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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.

Introductory to Spain

Recollections of a Day’s Journey in Spain

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

NOT less delighted do I call to mind,

Land of romance! thy wild and lovely scenes,

Than I beheld them first. Pleased I retrace

With Memory’s eye the placid Minho’s course,

And catch its winding waters gleaming bright

Amid the broken distance. I review

Leon’s wide wastes, and heights precipitous,

Seen with a pleasure not unmixed with dread,

As the sagacious mules along the brink

Wound patiently and slow their way secure;

And rude Galicia’s hovels, and huge rocks

And mountains, where, when all beside was dim,

Dark and broad-headed the tall pines erect

Rose on the farthest eminence distinct,

Cresting the evening sky.
Rain now falls thick,

And damp and heavy is the unwholesome air;

I by this friendly hearth remember Spain,

And tread in fancy once again the road,

Where twelve months since I held my way, and thought

Of England, and of all my heart held dear,

And wished this day were come.
The morning mist,

Well I remember, hovered o’er the heath,

When with the earliest dawn of day we left

The solitary Venta. Soon the sun

Rose in his glory; scattered by the breeze,

The thin fog rolled away, and now emerged

We saw where Oropesa’s castled hill

Towered dark, and dimly seen; and now we passed

Torvalva’s quiet huts, and on our way

Paused frequently, looked back, and gazed around,

Then journeyed on, yet turned and gazed again,

So lovely was the scene. That ducal pile

Of the Toledos now with all its towers

Shone in the sunlight. Half-way up the hill,

Embowered in olives, like the abode of Peace,

Lay Lagartina; and the cool, fresh gale,

Bending the young corn on the gradual slope,

Played o’er its varying verdure. I beheld

A convent near, and could almost have thought

The dwellers there must needs be holy men;

For, as they looked around them, all they saw

Was good.
But, when the purple eve came on,

How did the lovely landscape fill my heart!

Trees, scattered among peering rocks, adorned

The near ascent; the vale was overspread

With ilex in its wintry foliage gay,

Old cork-trees through their soft and swelling bark

Bursting, and glaucous olives, underneath

Whose fertilizing influence the green herb

Grows greener, and, with heavier ears enriched,

The healthful harvest bends. Pellucid streams

Through many a vocal channel from the hills

Wound through the valley their melodious way,

And, o’er the intermediate woods descried,

Naval-Moral’s church-tower announced to us

Our resting-place that night,—a welcome mark;

Though willingly we loitered to behold

In long expanse Plasencia’s fertile plain,

And the high mountain-range which bounded it,

Now losing fast the roseate hue that eve

Shed o’er its summit and its snowy breast;

For eve was closing now. Faint and more faint

The murmurs of the goatherd’s scattered flock

Were borne upon the air; and, sailing slow,

The broad-winged stork sought on the church-tower top

His consecrated nest. O lovely scenes!

I gazed upon you with intense delight,

And yet with thoughts that weigh the spirit down.

I was a stranger in a foreign land;

And, knowing that these eyes should nevermore

Behold that glorious prospect, Earth itself

Appeared the place of pilgrimage it is.