O with what gilding ray was the land agleam!
It was not sun and dew, bush, bough and leaf,
But human spirits visible as in a dream
That turns from glad to aching, being too brief:
Courage and beauty shining in such brightness
That the dark thoughtful woods were no more lightless.
But most the hills a splendour had put on
Of golden honour, bright and high and calm
And like old heroes young men dream upon
When midnight stirs with magic sword and palm;—
With the fled mist all meanness put away
And the air clear and keen as salt sea-spray . . .
And yet no dream, no dream! I saw the whole,
The reap'd fields, idle kine and wandering sheep.
A weak wind through the near tall hedge-tree stole,
And died where Dover's Hill rose bare and steep;
I saw yet what I saw an hour ago,
But knew what save by dreams I did not know—
Sweet England!—wild proud heart of things unspoken,
Spirit that men bear shyly and love purely;
That dies to live anew a life unbroken
As spring from every winter rising surely;
Sweet England unto generations sped,
Now bitter-sweetest for her daily dead.