Poet's Pilgrimage to Waterloo - Bruges

Robert Southey

Four horses, aided by the favouring breeze,
Drew our gay vessel, slow and sleek and large;
Crack goes the whip, the steersman at his ease
Directs the way, and steady went the barge.
Ere evening closed to Bruges thus we came,..
Fair city, worthy of her ancient fame.

The season of her splendour is gone by,
Yet every where its monuments remain;
Temples which rear their stately heads on high,
Canals that intersect the fertile plain,
Wide streets and squares, with many a court and hall
Spacious and undefaced, but ancient all.

Time hath not wronged her, nor hath Ruin sought
Rudely her splendid structures to destroy,
Save in those recent days with evil fraught,
When Mutability, in drunken joy
Triumphant, and from all restraint released,
Let loose the fierce and many-headed beast.

But for the sears in that unhappy rage
Inflicted, firm she stands and undecayed;
Like our first sires', a beautiful old age
Is hers, in venerable years arrayed;
And yet to her benignant stars may bring,
What fate denies to man,.. a second spring.

When I may read of tilts in days of old,
And tourneys graced by chieftains of renown,
Fair dames, grave citizens, and warriors bold,
If Fancy would pourtray some stately town,
Which for such pomp fit theatre should be,
Fair Bruges, I shall then remember thee.

Nor did thy landscape yield me less delight,
Seen from the deck as slow it glided by,
Or when beneath us, from thy Belfroy's height,
Its boundless circle met the bending sky;
The waters smooth and straight, thy proper boast,
And lines of road-side trees in long perspective lost.