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


The Wiltshire Cairn

By Walter Thornbury (1828–1876)

CARADOC with the golden torque,

Amber anklets and sword of bronze,

A wolf-skin clothing his giant limbs

Tawny with thirty summers’ suns,

Was slain beneath those great beech-trees

By Roman spearmen, who had found

His last retreat, and burnt his hut,

And dragged his wife in fetters bound.

Now see the mound, that scarcely swells

Above the level of the downs,

Upon whose summit, dry and sear,

Ground-thistles spread their purple crowns;

While round it nets the dry crisp thyme

The bees love so: those old trees wave

Just where the Roman spearmen struck,

And Caradoc had here his grave.

’T was fourteen hundred years ago;

And now the thrush upon the thorn

Sings heedless of that chieftain’s fate;

And on this golden July morn

A little butterfly, all blue,

In the mid air is hovering

Around the flowering grass that grows

Above the ashes of the king.

And far away the cornfields stretch

In golden sections, fading dim

To the gray ridge of farther down;

That burring murmur is the hymn

Of the great conqueror Steam, the chief

Of new reformers. See that whiff

Of flying smoke,—that is the train;

Fast burrowing in the tunnelled cliff.