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Lines Written On Visiting The Chateaux On The Loire poem – Alfred Austin


I

“River rolling past the grey

Battlements of yesterday,

Palace strongholds reared by hands

Summoned from transalpine lands,

Skilled in wedding strength with grace,

Fort with stately dwelling-place,

Vizored brow with siren tress,

Majesty with loveliness,-

River, that beheld their sway

Dawn and dwindle, then decay,

Linger, loiter, while I sit,

As the sunshine-shadows flit,

Pondering pictures of the vast

Panorama of the Past,

And, with retrospective gaze,

Tell me of the vanished days.”

II

Still the river rolled and rolled

‘Twixt its banks of green and gold,

Winding, wandering, slowly through

Starwort white and speedwell blue,

Flowing onward, heedless where,

Irresponsive to my prayer.

III

But, as motionless I dreamed

Of dim yesterdays, there seemed

From the plain to reach mine ears

Murmurings of the bygone years,

Till the river’s undertone

Blent its musings with my own.

IV

“Seaward I meander on,

All unchanged to gaze upon,

As when sceptre, pomp, and power,

Threatening parapet and tower,

Warrior grim and maiden gay

Fought and laughed the hours away:

Captains, Cardinals, and Kings,

Sepulchred with meaner things,

Nothing to distinguish now

Mitred head from minion brow,

Fleshless skull from fleshless skull,

Arrogant from beautiful;

Nameless relics of a name:-

I alone abide the same.”

V

Lingering still, I sate and mused,

Thought and feeling interfused

With the Châteaux and the stream

In an intermittent dream,

Till the Future wore at last

Likeness to the shadowy Past,

And I wondered if to-day,

Loftily as yesterday,

Will, departing, leave behind

Monuments of heart and mind,

Love and reverence will restore,

When men dwell in them no more.


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