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

Loire, the River

The Loire

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

From “The Prelude

ALONG that very Loire, with festal mirth

Resounding at all hours, and innocent yet

Of civil slaughter, was our frequent walk;

Or in wide forests of continuous shade,

Lofty and overarched, with open space

Beneath the trees, clear footing many a mile,—

A solemn region. Oft amid those haunts

From earnest dialogues I slipped in thought,

And let remembrance steal to other times,

When o’er those interwoven roots, moss-clad,

And smooth as marble or a waveless sea,

Some hermit, from his cell forth strayed, might pace

In sylvan meditation undisturbed;

As on the pavement of a Gothic church

Walks a lone monk, when service hath expired,

In peace and silence. But if e’er was heard—

Heard, though unseen—a devious traveller,

Retiring or approaching from afar

With speed, and echoes loud of trampling hoofs

From the hard floor reverberated, then

It was Angelica thundering through the woods

Upon her palfrey, or that gentle maid

Erminia, fugitive as fair as she.

Sometimes methought I saw a pair of knights

Joust underneath the trees, that as in storm

Rocked high above their heads; anon, the din

Of boisterous merriment, and music’s roar,

In sudden proclamation, burst from haunt

Of Satyrs in some viewless glade, with dance

Rejoicing o’er a female in the midst,

A mortal beauty, their unhappy thrall.

The width of those huge forests, unto me

A novel scene, did often in this way

Master my fancy while I wandered on

With that revered companion. And sometimes,—

When to a convent in a meadow green,

By a brookside, we came, a roofless pile,

And not by reverential touch of Time

Dismantled, but by violence abrupt,—

In spite of those heart-bracing colloquies,

In spite of real fervor, and of that

Less genuine and wrought up within myself,—

I could not but bewail a wrong so harsh,

And for the matin-bell to sound no more

Grieved, and the twilight taper, and the cross

High on the topmost pinnacle, a sign

(How welcome to the weary traveller’s eyes!)

Of hospitality and peaceful rest.

And when the partner of those varied walks

Pointed upon occasion to the site

Of Romorentin, home of ancient kings,

To the imperial edifice of Blois,

Or to that rural castle, name now slipped

From my remembrance, where a lady lodged,

By the first Francis wooed, and bound to him

In chains of mutual passion, from the tower,

As a tradition of the country tells,

Practised to commune with her royal knight

By cressets and love-beacons, intercourse

’Twixt her high-seated residence and his

Far off at Chambord on the plain beneath;

Even here, though less than with the peaceful house

Religious, mid those frequent monuments

Of kings, their vices and their better deeds,

Imagination, potent to inflame

At times with virtuous wrath and noble scorn

Did also often mitigate the force

Of civic prejudice, the bigotry,

So call it, of a youthful patriot’s mind;

And on these spots with many gleams I looked

Of chivalrous delight.