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I shall not pass this way again,
No use to whisper "stay!" into my ear:
I hear, but that is all I may;
Entranced by more than nature's charms,
A breeze upon a sea becalmed,
Slide I from here.

Yet not that this too peaceful scene
Lacks all the promises by which love tempts.
Oh, the longing for a life serene
Is well-met here: a quiet street
Through fields of barleycorn and wheat
Winds gently thence

To tie, as lifeline, cottage homes
Each to the other, one great family
Of thatched roofs, whitewashed walls of stone,
Of gardens where sweet roses bloom,
And no more do they than presume

And from those walls where ivy climbs,
T'ward heaven, windowed eyes look out upon
The village square, where often a time
Two friends or neighbours pause to greet
And pass an hour pleasantly,
Then on beyond

To forest stretching out betwixt
The farmlands, landscape patterned gold and green,
Where farmhands, seemingly bewitched,
Pace out day's pageant; sunlight falls
But softly on such pastoral,
Idyllic scenes.

Nor think that I disdain love's schemes,
I'd seize their offered chance as soon as choose;
And such is all a free man dreams ...
But, no. Such things are far from hope –
I see the future as I see a rope,
Tied as a noose.

I shall not pass this way again,
Your village nestling by its dark, warm woods
May tempt me – and I might remain
Some longer space, yield to its spell
(Was't this the lotos-eaters felt?)
If that I could.

But hour on hour my lines are laid
Into the distance as a track of steel
Unending, although much evades
A vision aimed by mortal eye:
All that I know is guided by
All that I feel.

Rise up! rise up, from hostess hearth,
No roof for thee, my soul, but open skies,
No matter that their stormy wrath
Dissolve the spell which summer wound
Thorough thy spindle, fate, for thou
Art winter-wise.

Lead on! lead on, down to the vale
Which through the world is drawn, shadows' abode,
Abundant with adventurous tales –
Had any man from thence returned
To tell, where he had delved, what learned
From mother-lode.

Old thoughts be still, your day is done,
Once-glittering hopes of star-spray dust, to dust
Are laid, in earth, cold, covered, gone;
Those few which, stubborn, seek to cling
Shall scattered be by winter wind's
First icy gust.
cottage homes
village nestling
village lines are laid
icy winter
photos: Stephen Alsford

Created: November 17, 2014. Last modified: April 4, 2015 © Stephen Alsford