A Spellbound Palace

J. M. W. Turner: View of Hampton Court, Herefordshire, from the Northwest / Wikimedia Commons

A Spellbound Palace

On this kindly yellow day of mild low-travelling winter sun

The stirless depths of the yews

Are vague with misty blues:

Across the spacious pathways stretching spires of shadow run,

And the wind-gnawed walls of ancient brick are fired vermilion.

Two or three early sanguine finches tune

Some tentative strains, to be enlarged by May or June:

From a thrush or blackbird

Comes now and then a word,

While an enfeebled fountain somewhere within is heard.

Our footsteps wait awhile,

Then draw beneath the pile,

When an inner court outspreads

As ’twere History’s own asile,

Where the now-visioned fountain its attenuate crystal sheds

In passive lapse that seems to ignore the yon world’s clamorous clutch,

And lays an insistent numbness on the place, like a cold hand’s touch.

And there swaggers the Shade of a straddling King, plumed, sworded, with sensual face,

And lo, too, that of his Minister, at a bold self-centred pace:

Sheer in the sun they pass; and thereupon all is still,

Save the mindless fountain tinkling on with thin enfeebled will.

— by Thomas Hardy (Hampton Court)

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