That England

From “Aurora Leigh” WHOEVER lives true life, will love true love. I learned to love that England. Very oft, Before the day was born, or otherwise Through secret windings of the afternoons, I threw my hunters off and plunged myself Among the deep hills, as a hunted stag Will take the waters, shivering with the fear And passion of the course. 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 Shakespeare’s.* * * * * 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? And shall we put Him down by aught we do? Who says there ’s nothing for the poor and vile Save poverty and wickedness? behold!” And ankle-deep in English grass I leaped, And clapped my hands, and called all very fair.

1826
Sub Title: 
Descriptive Poems: III. Places

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