The Valley of the White Horse

Alfred Williams

Some sing of costly treasure ships, the hoarded gold of gain,
The azure vaults of Italy, the spicy shores of Spain,
Of cinnamon and citron, purple mountains of the vine,
But none can tell a sweeter song than this dear vale of mine.

The rolling Danube and the Rhine are pleasant themes to me,
The golden Tiber and the Nile disgorging to the sea,
The Tagus and the Amazon may stretch a wider course,
But loveliest of all valleys is the Valley of White Horse.

From where the rising Cotswolds rear their gentlle-sloping crowns,
To where high-hearted Liddington o'ertops the rolling downs,
O give me leave to wander still, I hold the world to scorn
In the valley of my childhood, in the land where I was born.

There's Faringdon, and Folly Hill, and Stanford-in-the-Vale,
And Uffington, and Inglesham, and Highworth hoar and hale,
And many a pleasant-seated grove, and ancient old retreat,
The humble dwelling of the poor, the palace of the great.

True, no tremendous torrent roars through hollow, cleft ravine
Or cloudy mountain-pillar over-tops the rising scene,
But there are terraces and slopes, and woody walls and bowers,
And gentle winding rivulets through purple banks of flowers.

Here burn the scented clover tops, and there the lily blows,
The crimson-hearted sorrel and the heavy-breathing rose,
As far as eye can penetrate, as long as sight can reach,
Behold! the glory of the elm, the acorn, and the beech.

Here, sitting on the high hill-side, I feel the breezes blow
A wave of summer incense from the jewelled depths below,
And sweeter than the cooling breath that's winnowed from the sea
The gentle breathing of the vale comes floating up to me.

I see the morning sun arise, and watch the star go down,
And though my soul's to sorrow now, it hopes to hold the crown;
I crave no other recompense, no other honour hail,
But first to walk upon the hill and slumber in the vale.

There's something whispers in mine ear - I would not reason why -
"As long as woods and valleys live, thou hast no need to die;"
And now I recognise the voice, and tell the accent clear -
The vocal Spirit of the Vale, the mover of the sphere.

Long may I walk beside the stream, and woo the solemn burn,
Here weave the pliant willow and there pluck the folded fern,
While slender-footed Isis draws his silver-fountained force,
And winds his growing torrent down the Valley of White Horse.