"Cassel" [section title]
CASSEL
"Cassel" [poem]
THE way was long, and yet ʼtwas sweet,—
Through many a shady, soft retreat,
Where the broad willow semblance gave
Of weeping beauty to the wave;
And elm, with massy foliage prest,
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And feathery aspenʼs quivering crest;
And many a spiry poplar glade,
And hazelʼs rich entangled shade:
While, onward as advancing still
From Omerʼs plain 1 to Casselʼs hill, 2
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Far—yet more far the landscape threw
Its deep, immeasurable blue.
Oh, beautiful those plains were showing,
Where summer sun was hotly glowing!
Many a battlefield lay spread—
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Once the dark dwelling of the dead:
But fruitful now their champaigns wave
With bending grain on soldierʼs grave.
While far beneath in long array
The priestly orders wound their way;
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Heavy the massive banners rolled,
Rich wrought with gems, and stiff with gold:
While, as the cross came borne on high
Beneath its crimson canopy,
Many the haughty head that bowed,—
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Sunk his high crest the warrior proud,
The priest his glance benignant cast,
And murmured blessings as he past;
While, round the hillside echoing free,
Rung the loud hymning melody.
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Many a monkish voice was there,—
Many a trumpet rent the air,—
And softer, sweeter, yet the same,
The sounds in failing cadence came.
No marvel that the pomp and pride
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Of Romeʼs religion thus should hide
The serpent‐folds beneath that robe,
The poison mantling in the bowl. 3
"Cassel" [essay]
When shall we get up this hill, this interminable hill? 4 Bend after
bend we have been ascending for the last half‐hour, every successive turn
disclosing a weary length of way, and those tiresome windmills at the top
seem as far from us as ever. Windmills have long been celebrated for
gesticulation, celebrated with Cervantes all over the world, 5 but never saw
I windmills more provokingly alive than at present, with their long
stretchy arms bending to the breeze that flew over the hilltop; they seemed
beckoning us up ironically, while the slow measured step of our
booted postillion, as he tramped it up the hill as much encumbered as a
cat with walnut shells, told us of many a weary moment ere those becks
should, could, or would be obeyed. We are on the summit, a green
plateau of turf, that looks round on the wide plains of France without a
single eminence to rival it, and few that can obstruct its view.—Fifteen
battle‐fields are in view from that spot, telling a fearful tale of the ready
ire of nations, yet looking as green and peaceful as if they had never been
watered with blood. They say the cliffs of England are visible from
Cassel—the sea certainly is, so I looked in the direction and I did see
something. I had some lurking suspicions it was a cloud, but I chose
to believe it was my own England, and it did quite as well to bid
farewell to.
I love a view like this, for it seems as if you were looking over all the
wide, wide world and were ruling it. Throughout all our after journey I
have seen nothing more beautiful or more wonderful of its kind than the
view from the little, humble, neglected village of—Cassel.