Ill canst thou bide in alien lands like these,
Whose home lies overseas
Among manorial halls, parks wide and fair,
Churches antique, or where
Long hedges flower in spring, and one may hark
To carollings from old England's lovely lark!
Ill canst thou bide where memories are so brief,
Thou that hast bathed thy leaf
Deep in the shadowy past, and known strange things
Of crumbled queens and kings;
Thou whose green kindred, in years half forgot,
Robed the gray battlements of proud Camelot!
Through all thy fibres' intricate expanse
Hast thou breathed sweet romance!
Ladies that long are dust thou hast beheld,
In dreamy days of eld;
Watched in broad castle-courts the chafed steed fret,
The glittering knight, the gaudy banneret!
And thou hast seen, on lordly ancient lawns,
The timorous dappled fawns;
Heard pensive pages with their suave lutes play
Some low Provençal lay;
Marked beauteous dames through arrased chambers glide,
With lazy, graceful staghounds at their side!
And thou hast gazed on splendid cavalcades
Of nobles, matrons, maids,
Winding from castle-gates on merry morns,
With golden peals of horns,
In velvet and brocades, in plumes and silk,
With falcons, and with palfreys white as milk!
Through convent casements thou hast peered, and there
Viewed the meek nun at prayer;
Seen through rich panes dyed purple, gold or rose,
Monks read old folios;
On abbey-walls heard wild laughs thrill thy vine
When the fat, tonsured priests quaffed ruby wine!
O ivy, having lived in times like these,
Here art thou ill at ease,
For thou art one with ages past away,
We are of yesterday!
Short retrospect, slight ancestry is ours;
But thy dark leaves clothe history's haughty towers!