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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about The Visions of England.
be, that the love of truth and the love of England are mine by inheritance in a degree sufficient to exempt this book, (the labour of several years), from infidelity to either:—­that the intrinsic worth and weight of my subject may commend these songs, both at home, and in the many Englands beyond sea, to those who, (despite the inevitably more engrossing attractions of the Present, and the emphatic bias of modern culture towards the immediate and the tangible), maintain that high and soul-inspiring interest which, identifying us with our magnificent Past, and all its varied lessons of defeat and victory, offers at the same time,—­under the guidance from above,—­our sole secure guarantee for prosperous and healthy progress in the Future.

   The world has cycles in its course, when all
   That once has been, is acted o’er again;

and only the nation which, at each moment of political or social evolution, looks lovingly backward to its own painfully-earned experience—­Respiciens, Prospiciens, as Tennyson’s own chosen device expresses it—­has solid reason to hope, that its movement is true Advance—­that its course is Upward.

* * * * *

It remains only to add, that the book has been carefully revised and corrected, and that nineteen pieces published in the original volume of 1881 are not reprinted in the present issue.

F. T. P.
July, 1889

THE VISIONS OF ENGLAND

PRELUDE

CAESAR TO EGBERT

1

   England, fair England!  Empress isle of isles! 
   —­Round whom the loving-envious ocean plays,
   Girdling thy feet with silver and with smiles,
   Whilst all the nations crowd thy liberal bays;
   With rushing wheel and heart of fire they come,
   Or glide and glance like white-wing’d doves that know
      And seek their proper home:—­
   England! not England yet! but fair as now,
When first the chalky strand was stirr’d by Roman prow.

2

   On thy dear countenance, great mother-land,
   Age after age thy sons have set their sign,
   Moulding the features with successive hand
   Not always sedulous of beauty’s line:—­
   Yet here Man’s art in one harmonious aim
   With Nature’s gentle moulding, oft has work’d
      The perfect whole to frame: 
   Nor does earth’s labour’d face elsewhere, like thee,
Give back her children’s heart with such full sympathy

3

   —­On marshland rough and self-sprung forest gazed
   The imperial Roman of the eagle-eye;
   Log-splinter’d forts on green hill-summits raised,
   Earth huts and rings that dot the chalk-downs high:—­
   Dark rites of hidden faith in grove and moor;
   Idols of monstrous build; wheel’d scythes of war;
      Rock tombs and pillars hoar: 
   Strange races, Finn, Iberian, Belgae, Celt;
While in the wolds huge bulls and antler’d giants dwelt.

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