The Sweetness of England
And when, at last Escaped,-so many a green slope built on slope Betwixt me and the enemy's house behind, I dared to rest, or wander,-like a rest Made sweeter for the step upon the grass,- And view the ground's most gentle dimplement, (As if God's finger touched but did not press In making England!) such an up and down Of verdure,-nothing too much up or down, A ripple of land; such little hills, the sky Can stoop to tenderly and the wheatfields climb; Such nooks of valleys, lined with orchises, Fed full of noises by invisible streams; And open pastures, where you scarcely tell White daisies from white dew,-at intervals The mythic oaks and elm-trees standing out Self-poised upon their prodigy of shade,- I thought my father's land was worthy too Of being my Shakspeare's. Very oft alone, Unlicensed; not unfrequently with leave To walk the third with Romney and his friend The rising painter, Vincent Carrington, Whom men judge hardly, as bee-bonneted, Because he holds that, paint a body well, You paint a soul by implication, like The grand first Master. Pleasant walks! for if He said . . 'When I was last in Italy' . . It sounded as an instrument that's played Too far off for the tune-and yet it's fine To listen. Often we walked only two, If cousin Romney pleased to walk with me. We read, or talked, or quarrelled, as it chanced; We were not lovers, nor even friends well-matched- Say rather, scholars upon different tracks, And thinkers disagreed; he, overfull Of what is, and I, haply, overbold For what might be. But then the thrushes sang, And shook my pulses and the elms' new leaves,- And then I turned, and held my finger up, And bade him mark that, howsoe'er the world Went ill, as he related, certainly The thrushes still sang in it.-At which word His brow would soften,-and he bore with me In melancholy patience, not unkind, While, breaking into voluble ecstasy, I flattered all the beauteous country round, As poets use . . .the skies, the clouds, the fields, The happy violets hiding from the roads The primroses run down to, carrying gold,- The tangled hedgerows, where the cows push out Impatient horns and tolerant churning mouths 'Twixt dripping ash-boughs,-hedgerows all alive With birds and gnats and large white butterflies Which look as if the May-flower had sought life And palpitated forth upon the wind,- Hills, vales, woods, netted in a silver mist, Farms, granges, doubled up among the hills, And cattle grazing in the watered vales, And cottage-chimneys smoking from the woods, And cottage-gardens smelling everywhere, Confused with smell of orchards. 'See,' I said, 'And see! is God not with us on the earth?
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