Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Verses on the Gateway Still Standing at Nettlestead, Suffolk

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


Verses on the Gateway Still Standing at Nettlestead, Suffolk

By Bernard Barton (1784–1849)

THOU art noble yet, for thy ruins recall

The remembrance of vanished glory;

And Time, which has levelled the ancient hall,

Still spares thee to tell of its story.

O’er thy crumbling arch the sculptured shield,

In spite of spoil’s bereavement,

Is left as a relic, on which are revealed

The insignia of a bold achievement.

When first they were graven, to honor’s eye

Their emblazonment shone forth brightly;

But now the rustic passes them by,

And thinks of their legend lightly.

It boots but little. To rise, and fall,

And leave but a wreck to outlive them,

Is, as it should be, the lot of all

Who trust in what pride can give them.

There are thoughts more touching than those which rise

From pride’s departed splendor;

And thine is connected with countless ties,

Which waken ideas more tender.

The heart, with its griefs, joys, hopes, and fears,

Changes little in passions and powers;

And theirs, who sojourned here in distant years,

Cherished feelings the same as ours!

For they lived, and they loved like us; and this

Was their home, in pain and pleasure;

And the best of them hoarded here their bliss,

As the miser his hidden treasure.

And now, when the trappings of glory fade,

And its sunniest heights are shrouded,

The beams of affection, that brightened its shade,

Are to Memory’s eye unclouded.

To the heart, to the heart, we must turn at last,

For all that endures the longest;

Its better feelings no blight can blast,

For their strength is in storms the strongest.

But in storm or sunshine ’t is theirs alone

To leave that enchantment behind them

Which gives them an influence all must own,

By Nature herself assigned them.

Thou art noble yet, thou desolate pile!

For the trophies of fame enwreathe thee;

But that fame is not worth one tear or smile

Of some who have passed underneath thee.