The Visions of England eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about The Visions of England.

St. 3 Sketches Prehistoric England.  St. 4 Mile-paths; old English name for Roman roads.  St. 5 Tree and flower; such are reported to have been naturalized in England by the Romans.—­Northern ramparts; that of Agricola and Lollius Urbicus from Forth to Clyde, and the greater work of Hadrian and Severus between Tyne and Solway.  St. 6, 7 The Arthurian legends,—­now revivified for us by Tennyson’s magnificent Idylls of the King,—­form the visionary links in our history between the decline of the Roman power and the earlier days of the Saxon conquest.  St. 9 Villagedom; Angles and Saxons seem at first to have burned the larger towns of the Romanized Britons and left them deserted, in favour of village-life.  St. 11 Village-moot:  Held on a little hill or round a sacred tree:  ’the ealdermen spoke, groups of freemen stood round, clashing shields in applause, settling matters by loud shouts of Aye or Nay.’ (J.  R. Green, History of the English People).  St. 12 Balder, the God of Light, like Adonis in the old Greek story, is a nature-myth, figuring the Sun, yearly dying in winter, and yearly restored to life.  St. 13 Landeyda; Name of Danish banner:  ‘the desolation of the land.’

For further details upon points briefly noticed in this Prelude, readers are referred to Mr. J. R. Green’s History, and to Mr. T. Wright’s The Celt, The Roman, and The Saxon, as sources readily accessible.

THE FIRST AND LAST LAND

AT SENNEN

Thrice-blest, alone with Nature!—­here, where gray
   Belerium fronts the spray
Smiting the bastion’d crags through centuries flown,
   While, ’neath the hissing surge,
Ocean sends up a deep, deep undertone,

As though his heavy chariot-wheels went round: 
   Nor is there other sound
Save from the abyss of air, a plaintive note,
   The seabirds’ calling cry,
As ’gainst the wind with well-poised weight they float,

Or on some white-fringed reef set up their post,
   And sentinel the coast:—­
Whilst, round each jutting cape, in pillar’d file,
   The lichen-bearded rocks
Like hoary giants guard the sacred Isle.

—­Happy, alone with Nature thus!—­Yet here
   Dim, primal man is near;—­
The hawk-eyed eager traders, who of yore
   Through long Biscayan waves
Star-steer’d adventurous from the Iberic shore

Or the Sidonian, with their fragrant freight
   Oil-olive, fig, and date;
Jars of dark sunburnt wine, flax-woven robes,
   Or Tyrian azure glass
Wavy with gold, and agate-banded globes:—­

Changing for amber-knobs their Eastern ware
   Or tin-sand silvery fair,
To temper brazen swords, or rim the shield
   Of heroes, arm’d for fight:—­
While the rough miners, wondering, gladly yield

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The Visions of England from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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