Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BANKS OF WYE: BOOK 2, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Harry of monmouth, o'er thy page

HARRY of MONMOUTH, o'er thy page,
Great chieftain of a daring age,
The stripling soldier burns to see
The spot of thy nativity;
His ardent fancy can restore
Thy castle's turrets, now no more;
See the tall plumes of victory wave,
And call old valour from the grave;
Twang the strong bow, and point the lance,
That pierc'd the shatter'd hosts of France,
When Europe, in the days of yore,
Shook at the rampant lion's roar.
Ten hours were all we could command;
The Boat was moor'd upon the strand,
The midnight current, by her side,
Was stealing down to meet the tide;
The wakeful steersman ready lay,
To rouse us at the break of day;
It came-how soon! and what a sky,
To cheer the bounding traveller's eye!
To make him spurn his couch of rest,
To shout upon the river's breast;
Watching by turns the rosy hue
Of early cloud, or sparkling dew;
These living joys the verse shall tell,
Harry, and Monmouth, fare-ye-well.
On upland farm, and airy height,
Swept by the breeze, and cloth'd in light,
The reapers, early from their beds,
Perhaps were singing o'er our heads.
For, stranger, deem not that the eye
Could hence survey the eastern sky;
Or mark the streak'd horizon's bound,
Where first the rosy sun wheels round;
Deep in the gulf beneath were we,
Whence climb'd blue mists o'er rock and tree;
A mingling, undulating crowd,
That form'd the dense or fleecy cloud;
Slow from the darken'd stream upborne,
They caught the quick'ning gales of morn;
There bade their parent WYE good day,
And ting'd with purple sail'd away.
The MUNNO join'd us all unseen,
TROY HOUSE, and BEAUFORT'S bowers of green,
And nameless prospects, half defin'd,
Involv'd in mist, were left behind.
Yet as the boat still onward bore,
These ramparts of the eastern shore
Cower'd the high crest to many a sweep,
And bade us o'er each minor steep
Mark the bold KYMIN'S sunny brow,
That, gleaming o'er our fogs below,
Lifted amain with giant power,
E'en to the clouds his NAVAL TOWER[1];
[Footnote 1: The Kymin Pavilion, erected in honour of the British
Admirals, and their unparalleled victories.]
Proclaiming to the morning sky,
Valour, and fame, and victory.
The air resign'd its hazy blue,
Just as LANDOGA came in view;
Delightful village! one by one,
Its climbing dwellings caught the sun.
So bright the scene, the air so clear,
Young Love and Joy seem'd station'd here;
And each with floating banners cried,
Stop friends, you'll meet the slimy tide.
Rude fragments, torn, disjointed, wild,
High on the Glo'ster shore are pil'd;
No ruin'd fane, the boast of years,
Unstain'd by time the group appears;
With foaming wrath, and hideous swell,
Brought headlong down a woodland dell,
When a dark thunder-storm had spread
Its terrors round the guilty head;
When rocks, earth-bound, themselves gave way,
When crash'd the prostrate timbers lay.
O, it had been a noble sight,
Crouching beyond the torrent's might,
To mark th' uprooted victims bow,
The grinding masses dash below,
And hear the long deep peal the while
Burst over TINTERN'S roofless pile!
Then, as the sun regain'd his power,
When the last breeze from hawthorn bower,
Or Druid oak, had shook away
The rain-drops 'midst the gleaming day,
Perhaps the sigh of hope return'd
And love in some chaste bosom burn'd,
And softly trill'd the stream along,
Some rustic maiden's village song.
The Maid of Landoga.
Return, my Llewellyn, the glory
That heroes may gain o'er the sea,
Though nations may feel
Their invincible steel,
By falsehood is tarnish'd in story;
Why tarry, Llewellyn, from me?
Thy sails, on the fathomless ocean,
Are swell'd by the boisterous gale;
How rests thy tir'd head
On the rude rocking bed?
While here not a leaf is in motion,
And melody reigns in the dale.
The mountains of Monmouth invite thee;
The WYE, O how beautiful here!
This woodbine, thine own,
Hath the cottage o'ergrown,
O what foreign shore can delight thee,
And where is the current so clear?
Can lands where false pleasure assails thee,
And beauty invites thee to roam;
Can the deep orange grove
Charm with shadows of love?
Thy love at LANDOGA bewails thee;
Remember her truth and thy home.
Adieu, LANDOGA, scene most dear,
Farewell we bade to ETHEL'S WIER;
Round many a point then bore away,
Till morn was chang'd to beauteous day:
And forward on the lowland shore,
Silent majestic ruins wore
The stamp of holiness; this strand
The steersman hail'd, and touch'd the land.
SUDDEN the change; at once to tread
The grass-grown mansions of the dead!
Awful to feeling, where, immense,
Rose ruin'd, gray magnificence;
The fair-wrought shaft all ivy-bound,
The tow'ring arch with foliage crown'd,
That trembles on its brow sublime,
Triumphant o'er the spoils of time.
Here, grasping all the eye beheld,
Thought into mingling anguish swell'd.
And check'd the wild excursive wing,
O'er dust or bones of priest or king;
Or rais'd some STRONGBOW[A] warrior's ghost
To shout before his banner'd host.
[Footnote A: They shew here a mutilated figure, which they call the famous
Earl Strongbow; but it appears from Coxe that he was buried at
But all was still.-The chequer'd floor
Shall echo to the step no more;
Nor airy roof the strain prolong,
Of vesper chant or choral song.
TINTERN, thy name shall hence sustain
A thousand raptures in my brain;
Joys, full of soul, all strength, all eye,
That cannot fade, that cannot die.
No loitering here, lone walks to steal,
Welcome the early hunter's meal;
For time and tide, stern couple, ran
Their endless race, and laugh'd at man;
Deaf, had we shouted, "turn about?"
Or, "wait a while, till we come out;"
To humour them we check'd our pride,
And ten cheer'd hearts stow'd side by side;
Push'd from the shore with current strong,
And, "Hey for Chepstow," steer'd along.
Amidst the bright expanding day,
Solemnly deep, dark shadows lay,
Of that rich foliage, tow'ring o'er
Where princely abbots dwelt of yore.
The mind, with instantaneous glance,
Beholds his barge of state advance,
Borne proudly down the ebbing tide,
She turns the waving boughs aside;
She winds with flowing pendants drest,
And as the current turns south-west,
She strikes her oars, where full in view,
Stupendous WIND-CLIFF greets his crew.
But, Fancy, let thy day-dreams cease,
With fallen greatness be at peace;
Enough; for WIND-CLIFF still was found
To hail us as we doubled round.
Bold in primeval strength he stood;
His rocky brow, all shagg'd with wood,
O'er-look'd his base, where, doubling strong,
The inward torrent pours along;
Then ebbing turns, and turns again,
To meet the Severn and the Main,
Beneath the dark shade sweeping round,
Of beetling PERSFIELD'S fairy ground,
By buttresses of rock upborne,
The rude APOSTLES all unshorn.
Long be the slaught'ring axe defy'd;
Long may they bear their waving pride;
Tree over tree, bower over bower,
In uncurb'd nature's wildest power;
Till WYE forgets to wind below,
And genial spring to bid them grow.
And shall we e'er forget the day, When our last chorus died away? When first we hail'd, then moor'd
beside Rock-founded CHEPSTOW'S mouldering pride? Where that strange bridge[1], light, trembling,
high, Strides like a spider o'er the WYE; [Footnote 1: "On my arrival at Chepstow," says Mr. Coxe,
I walked to the bridge; it was low water, and I looked down on the river ebbing between forty and
fifty feet beneath; six hours after it rose near forty feet, almost reached the floor of the
bridge, and
Pollett, farewell! Thy dashing oar
Shall lull us into peace no more;
But where Kyrl trimm'd his infant green,
Long mayst thou with thy bark be seen;
And happy be the hearts that glide
Through such a scene, with such a guide.
The verse of gravel walks that tells,
With pebble rocks and mole-hill swells,
May strain description's bursting cheeks,
And far out-run the goal it seeks.
Not so when ev'ning's purpling hours,
Hied us away to Persfield bowers:
Here no such danger waits the lay,
Sing on, and truth shall lead the way;
Here sight may range, and hearts may glow,
Yet shrink from the abyss below;
Here echoing precipices roar,
As youthful ardour shouts before;
Here a sweet paradise shall rise
At once to greet poetic eyes.
Then why does he dispel, unkind,
The sweet illusion from the mind,
That giant, with the goggling eye,
Who strides in mock sublimity?
Giants, identified, may frown,
Nature and taste would knock them down:
Blocks that usurp some noble station,
As if to curb imagination,
That, smiling at the chissel's pow'r,
Makes better monsters erery hour.
Beneath impenetrable green,
Down 'midst the hazel stems was seen
The turbid stream, with all that past;
The lime-white deck, the gliding mast;
Or skiff with gazers darting by,
Who rais'd their hands in extasy.
Impending cliffs hung overhead;
The rock-path sounded to the tread,
Where twisted roots, in many a fold,
Through moss, disputed room for hold.
The stranger thus who steals one hour
To trace thy walks from bower to bower,
Thy noble cliffs, thy wildwood joys,
Nature's own work that never cloys,
Who, while reflection bids him roam,
Exclaims not, "PERSFIELD is my home"
Can ne'er, with dull unconscious eye,
Leave them behind without a sigh.
Thy tale of truth then, Sorrow, tell,
Of one who bade this home farewell;
MORRIS of PERSFIELD.-Hark, the strains!
Hark! 'tis some Monmouth bard complains!
The deeds, the worth, he knew so well,
The force of nature bids him tell.
Who was lord of yon beautiful seat;
Yon woods which are tow'ring so high?
Who spread the rich board for the great,
Yet listen'd to pity's soft sigh?
Who gave alms with a spirit so free?
Who succour'd distress at his door?
Our Morris of Persfield was he,
Who dwelt in the hearts of the poor.
But who e'en of wealth shall make sure,
Since wealth to misfortune has bow'd?
Long cherish'd untainted and pure,
The stream of his charity flow'd.
But all his resources gave way,
O what could his feelings controul?
What shall curb, in the prosperous day,
Th' excess of a generous soul?
He bade an adieu to the town,
O, can I forget the sad day?
When I saw the poor widows kneel down,
To bless him, to weep, and to pray.
Though sorrow was mark'd in his eye,
This trial he manfully bore;
Then pass'd o'er the bridge of the WYE,
To return to his PERSFIELD no more.
Yet surely another may feel,
And poverty still may be fed;
I was one who rung out the dumb peal,
For to us noble MORRIS was dead.
He had not lost sight of his home,
Yon domain that so lovely appears,
When he heard it, and sunk overcome;
He could feel, and he burst into tears.
The lessons of prudence have charms,
And slighted, may lead to distress;
But the man whom benevolence warms,
Is an angel who lives but to bless.
If ever man merited fame, If ever man's failings went free, Forgot at the sound of his name, Our
Morris of Persfield was he[1]. [Footnote 1: The author is equally indebted to Mr. Coxe's County
History for this anecdote, as for the greater part of the notes subjoined throughout the Journal.]
CLEFT from the summit, who shall say
When WIND-CLIFF'S other half gave way?
Or when the sea-waves roaring strong,
First drove the rock-bound tide along?
To studious leisure be resign'd,
The task that leads the wilder'd mind
From time's first birth throughout the range
Of Nature's everlasting change.
Soon from his all-commanding brow,
Lay PERSFIELD'S rocks and woods below.
Back over MONMOUTH who could trace
The WYE'S fantastic mountain race?
Before us, sweeping far and wide.
Lay out-stretch'd SEVERN'S ocean tide,
Through whose blue mists, all upward blown,
Broke the faint lines of heights unknown;
And still, though clouds would interpose,
The COTSWOLD promontories rose
In dark succession: STINCHCOMB'S brow,
With BERKLEY CASTLE crouch'd below;
And stranger spires on either hand,
From THORNBURY, on the Glo'ster strand;
With black-brow'd woods, and yellow fields,
The boundless wealth that summer yields,
Detain'd the eye, that glanc'd again
O'er KINGROAD anchorage to the main.
Or was the bounded view preferr'd,
Far, far beneath the spreading herd
Low'd as the cow-boy stroll'd along,
And cheerly sung his last new song.
But cow-boy, herd, and tide, and spire,
Sunk Into gloom, the tinge of fire,
As westward roll'd the setting day,
Fled like a golden dream away.
Then CHEPSTOW'S ruin'd fortress caught
The mind's collected store of thought,
And seem'd, with mild but jealous frown,
To promise peace, and warn us down.
Twas well; for he has much to boast,
Much still that tells of glories lost,
Though rolling years have form'd the sod,
Where once the bright-helm'd warrior trod
From tower to tower, and gaz'd around,
While all beneath him slept profound.
E'en on the walls where pac'd the brave,
High o'er his crumbling turrets wave
The rampant seedlings-Not a breath
Past through their leaves; when, still as death,
We stopp'd to watch the clouds-for night
Grew splendid with encreasing light,
Till, as time loudly told the hour,
Gleam'd the broad front of MARTEN'S TOWER[1],
[Footnote 1: Henry Marten, whose signature appears upon the death-warrant
of Charles the First, finished his days here in prison. Marten lived to
the advanced age of seventy-eight, and died by a stroke of apoplexy, which
seized him while he was at dinner, in the twentieth year of his
confinement. He was buried in the chancel of the parish church at
Chepstow. Over his ashes was placed a stone with an inscription, which
remained there until one of the succeeding vicars declaring his abhorrence
that the monument of a rebel should stand so near the altar, removed the
stone into the body of the church!]
Bright silver'd by the moon.-Then rose
The wild notes sacred to repose;
Then the lone owl awoke from rest,
Stretch'd his keen talons, plum'd his crest,
And from his high embattl'd station,
Hooted a trembling salutation.
Rocks caught the "halloo" from his tongue,
And PERSFIELD back the echoes flung
Triumphant o'er th' illustrious dead,
Their history lost, their glories fled.

Discover our Poem Explanations and Poet Analyses!

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net