William Wordsworth

TO a hope

Not less ambitious once, among the wilds

Of Sarum’s Plain, my youthful spirit was raised;

There, as I ranged at will the pastoral downs

Trackless and smooth, or paced the bare white roads

Lengthening in solitude their dreary line,

Time with his retinue of ages fled

Backwards, nor checked his flight until I saw

Our dim ancestral past in vision clear;—

Saw multitudes of men, and here and there

A single Briton clothed in wolf-skin vest,

With shield and stone-axe, stride across the wold;

The voice of spears was heard,—the rattling spear

Shaken by arms of mighty bone, in strength,

Long mouldered, of barbaric majesty.

I called on Darkness; but before the word

Was uttered, midnight darkness seemed to take

All objects from my sight; and lo! again

The desert visible by dismal flames:

It is the sacrificial altar, fed

With living men,—how deep the groans! the voice

Of those that crowd the giant wicker thrills

The monumental hillocks, and the pomp

Is for both worlds, the living and the dead.

At other moments (for through that wide waste

Three summer days I roamed) where’er the Plain

Was figured o’er with circles, lines, or mounds,

That yet survive,—a work, as some divine,

Shaped by the Druids, so to represent

Their knowledge of the heavens, and image forth

The constellations,—gently was I charmed

Into a waking dream, a reverie

That, with believing eyes, where’er I turned,

Beheld long-bearded teachers, with white wands

Uplifted, pointing to the starry sky,

Alternately, and plain below, while breath

Of music swayed their motions, and the waste

Rejoiced with them and me in those sweet sounds.