Recollections of a Day's Journey in Spain

Robert Southey

Not less delighted do I call to mind,
Land of romance! thy wild and lovely scenes,
Than I beheld them first. Pleased I retrace
With Memory's eye the placid Minho's course,
And catch its winding waters gleaming bright
Amid the broken distance. I review
Leon's wide wastes, and heights precipitous,
Seen with a pleasure not unmixed with dread,
As the sagacious mules along the brink
Wound patiently and slow their way secure;
And rude Galicia's hovels, and huge rocks
And mountains, where, when all beside was dim,
Dark and broad-headed the tall pines erect
Kose on the farthest eminence distinct,
Cresting the evening sky.

Rain now falls thick,
And damp and heavy is the unwholesome air;
I by this friendly hearth remember Spain,
And tread in fancy once again the road,
Where twelve months since I held my way, and thought
Of England, and of all my heart held dear,
And wished this day were come.

The morning mist,
Well I remember, hovered o'er the heath.
When with the earliest dawn of day we left
The solitary Venta. Soon the sun
Rose in his glory; scattered by the breeze,
The thin fog rolled away, and now emerged
We saw where Oropcsa's castled hill
Towered dark, and dimly seen; and now we passed
Towered's quiet huts, and on our way
Paused frequently, looked back, and gazed around,
Then journeyed on, yet turned and gazed again,
So lovely was the scene. That dead pile
Of the Toledos now with all its towers
Shone in the sunlight. Half-way up the hill,
Embowered in olives, like the abode of Peace,
Lay Lagartina; and the cool, fresh gale,
Bending the young corn on the gradual slope,
Played o'er its varying verdure. I beheld
A convent near, and could almost have thought
The dwellers there must needs be holy men;
For, as they looked around them, all they saw
Was good.

But, when the purple eve came on,
How did the lovely landscape fill my heart!
Trees, scattered among peering rocks, adorned
The near ascent; the vale was overspread
With ilex in its wintry foliage gay,
Old cork-trees through their soft and swelling bark
Bursting, and glaneous olives, underneath
Whose fertilizing influence the green herb
Grows greener, and, with heavier ears enriched,
The healthful harvest bends. Pellueid streams
Through many a vocal channel from the hills
Wound through the valley their melodious way,
And, o'er the intermediate woods descried,
Naval-Moral's church-tower announced to us
Our resting-place that night, — a welcome mark;
Though willingly we loitered to behold
In long expanse Plasencia's fertile plain.
And the high mountain-range which bounded it,
Now losing fast the roseate hue that eve
Shed o'er its summit and its snowy breast;
For eve was closing now. Faint and more faint
The murmurs of the goatherd's scattered flock
Were borne upon the air; and, sailing slow,
The broad-winged stork sought on the church-tower top
His consecrated nest. O lovely scenes!
I gazed upon you with intense delight,
And yet with thoughts that weigh the spirit down.
I was a stranger in a foreign land;
And, knowing that these eyes should nevermore
Behold that glorious prospect. Earth itself
Appeared the place of pilgrimage it is.

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