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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.


The Barons at Runnimede

By Sir Aubrey de Vere (1788–1846)

WITH what an awful grace those barons stood

In presence of the king at Runnimede!

Their silent finger to that righteous deed

O’er which, with cheek forsaken of its blood,

He hung, still pointing with stern hardihood,

And brow that spake the unuttered mandate, “Read!”

“Sign!” He glares round.—Never! though thousands bleed

He will not! Hush,—low words, in solemn mood,

Are murmured; and he signs. Great God! were these

Progenitors of our enfeebled kind?

Whose wordy wars are waged to thwart or please

Minions, not kings; who stoop with grovelling mind

To weigh the pauper’s dole, scan right by rule,

And plunder churches to endow a school!