About Wiltshire

Alfred Williams

Have you followed richer valleys? have you rounded fairer hills?
   Have you walked in broader avenues, or higher colonnades?
Have you wandered in such pastures, by such pleasant lakes and rills,
   Through such forest and plantations, through such thickets and such glades?
Can you name another county, you who've journeyed done and ended
   All the corners of the kingdom, travelled north and east and west,
Where all true association is more fully mixed and blended,
   And earth wears a fairer jewel on her palpitating breast?
Can you point such loving fingers at the old and venerated,
   Tombs of endless storms and winters simple, rugged, and sublime,
Monuments of kings and heroes, undeciphered and undated,
   Sacramental shrines and temples greyer than the hairs of Time;
Where the hills are strown with relics of old warriors and sages,
   Carved with strange and runic features, cleft with furrows long and deep,
Great with human recollection of the dark and troubled ages,
   And the battles of the father who amid their ruins sleep?

Can you trace a fairer garden, truer-trimmed or better-ordered?
   Here the channel of the Avon, there the Valley of the Horse,
North the flowing Thames arises flowery-banked and jewel-bordered,
   East the shallow silvery Kennet chimes along its reedy course;
Meadows here and blooming orchards, groves of poplar, walls of willow,
   Spreading oak and elm and chestnut, arms and branches interlaced
With the honey bean and clover, and the coltsfoot sweet and yellow,
   Like the letters on a girdle twined about a maiden's waist;
Banks of primrose, loving lillies, barberry bloom and wreaths of roses,
   With the fragrant honeysuckle fresh and sweet upon the bough;
Tender pinks and drooping purples, and a hundred other posies
   Push their souls in emulation from the thankful soil below;
Here the golden furze and bracken, and the hawthorn sweetly smelling,
   There the walnut and the hazel and the darkly-looming pine,
And the birches and the beeches with their thousand forms excelling
   Looped in aisles and cloudy cloisters with a meaning half divine.

Say! you great ones who have journeyed, slaves of pleasure or of duty
   Over far-off distant countries basking in the summer smile,
Have you ever comprehended such a native simple beauty
   As is breathed within the circuit of your own beloved isle?
Have you crossed the broad Atlantic to the land of lakes and mountains?
   Have you viewed the Mississippi rolling seaward mile on mile?
Have you rounded east to India with its purple streams and fountains?
   Have you sailed the shores of Tempe? have you crossed the plains of Nile?
This may please you with its fulness, by its boundless scope and measure
   Rolling visionless and sightless, unremitting to the eye,
Here the inward sense is taken with the languid ease and leisure,
   There you praise the noble harbour, and the clear cerulean sky;
Great delights are sure to sicken, over-held and over-rated,
   Here's a beauty all-abiding, here the joy that cannot tire,
With a world of living wonder and a pleasure still unsated,
   Inward love and true affection, inexpressible desire.

Land of health and flowing breezes, land of sunshine and of mirth,
   Of the high and celebrated, of the humble and the free,
Happy in thy generations, dearest spot of all the earth,
   Mother of outnumbered children, hope and comforter to me,
Could I tell the love within me, could I show the pains I feel,
   How I hold thee in affection, how my arms would clasp and twine,
How I long to grow unto thee, while my heart and soul would steal
   Like a flame out of my bosom to that greater soul of thine?
All the passion of existence, all my riches and my wealth,
   All my earthly joy abounding, all of beauty or of sound,
All I hope for in the future, robust good and present health,
   All my being is concentered in this little plot of ground;
Here I live as one translated, careless in a world of toil,
   Pleased to wear the human fetter, journeying out along the road
With eternity around me, happy in my mortal soil,
   Climbing through the silent valley up the universe to God.

Blessing on thy fields for ever! blessing and the crown of peace!
   Joy possess thy straying hamlets and prosperity thy towns!
May the golden-gleaming banner of the harvest never cease
   To wave along thy valleys and to beautify thy downs!
May thy hills be rich with verdure, and thy meadows full and deep,
   Thy woods be rare with violet, to every eye endeared,
And let no civil strife arise, and bid contention sleep,
   And O may Labour rest content and Justice be revered!
To all my yeoman, lusty hearts, fair tilth and fruitful years,
   The simple recompense of faith, the sacrifice of pride,
A courage to thy ministers and wisdom to thy peers,
   And over all a lasting love, a friendship to abide!
Blessing on thy sons and daughters who have crossed beyond the sea,
   May fortune further their desires and plenty fill their store,
But O may kindness turn their thoughts in thankfulness to thee,
   To have thee in their memory still and love thee more and more.

Main Location:

Wiltshire, UK