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


To an Old English Village

By Richard Howitt (1799–1869)

WHAT unto thee are cities vast,

Small village here among these elms?

The care that eats, the show that cheats,

The noise that overwhelms?

Few sounds are thine, and clearly heard,—

The whimple of the brook,

The woodman’s axe that distant sounds,

Dogs’ bay, or cawing rook.

How filled with quiet are these fields!

Far off is heard the peasant’s tread.

How clothed with peace is human life!

How tranquil seem the dead!

Here Time and Nature are at strife,—

The only strife that here is seen;

Whate’er decay has tinged with gray,

Has nature touched with green.

The market cross o’ergrown with moss,

All quaintly carved, still lingers on,

And dreams, even in this hoary place,

Of ages longer gone.

The Maypole, hung with garlands sere,

Thou fondly dost retain as yet,

All good old pastimes of the land

Unwilling to forget.

The Gothic church, the manor hall,

And cottages low roofed with stone,

With waving grass and lichens all

Are grayly overgrown.

Haunt for the meditative mind!

Some hermit long hath near thee dwelt,

And breathed his soul forth on the air

In quiet that is felt.

I round me look some monk to see,

Some stately old monastic fane;

Nor should I start, were I to meet

The Norman or the Dane.

Here, as to all the world unknown,

A sage seclusion dost thou keep;

And here Antiquity enjoys

A deep and mossy sleep.

Across the moors far I have sped,

Intent upon a glowing theme;

And here the first time round me look

Awake, as in a dream.

Thy name I know not, nor would know;

No common name would I be told:

Yet often shall I see thee now,

Thou village quaint and old.