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

St. Germain-en-Laye

The Terrace of St. Germain

By Bessie Rayner Parkes (1829–1925)

THE STATELIEST walk which man hath made—

Imperial Rome no equal shows—

Is that which casts a league of shade

Where Seine amidst her meadows flows.

Spring clothes its cyclopean wall

Of living forest every year,

And Autumn drapes a splendid pall

For Nature as the days grow drear.

And though it was the hand of Art

Which shaped and wrought the royal plan,

Yet Nature brought her nobler part

To dignify the work of man.

It sweeps athwart the level hill,

As if for giant footsteps meant;

What king but here might gaze his fill,

And pace the mighty path content!

Yet here a kingly exile came,

To brood on sorrows day by day;

Of daughters who abjured his name,

And three fair kingdoms passed away.

A dark and melancholy soul

His pictures show, as if he saw

The writing of some fatal scroll,

The sentence of some ruthless law;

And knew his father’s blood had made

A vain libation for the race,

Whose last lone son should lay his head

Uncrowned within the sacred place

Where nations worship, and should owe

Unto the king who wore his crown,

Canova’s tomb of moulded snow,

And words whereby his state is known.

Sad English ghost! whose line decayed

On English page scarce owns a friend!

With what pathetic steps ye tread

The lordly walk from end to end!