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Dartmoor Verse 1

Dartmoor Verse 1

Ye mighty Tors, – ye regions of the cloud !

Dartmoor ! in chant of Bard too long unsung !

So lofty, so remote, so passing proud,

Ye tower on high, the scenes of song among.

None e’er hath looked upon you, as fit theme

For verse – nor e’er in kindred feeling warm,

Deemed there might mantle one inspiring beam

O’er giant hills of solitude and storm.

They say ye’re not poetic, – but to me

There’s poetry where’er the wild flowers blow –

There’s poetry where’er our eye is free

To wander heaven above, or earth below !

Are not the clouds that veil the loftiest peaks,

The rocks, the floods down gushing from their height,

Are these not Poetry? – a lore that speaks

Deep in the enthusiast bosom they delight ?

To me the tempest’s roll – the thunder’s voice –

Are poetry all eloquent of power; –

These bid my spirit kindle and rejoice

In the dark storm, the midnight’s gloomy hour.

And these are yours, Oh mountains ! these, around

Your time-bleached summits, mingle in the air

A potent voice, a passion-stirring sound,

Whose soul of feeling lives and centres there.

Is it not poetry of thought sublime,

To stand beneath the Universe of Blue;

And see the giant Sun exulting climb

His hill of hills, and blaze upon our view !

To see his morning flame the rocks o’erspread,

Pure spirit floating through the vast Unknown;

A sea of pearl-drops o’er each moorland shed,

Like fallen jewels of his Seraphic throne.

Is it not poetry, at Midnight hour

To watch the starry fires ascend on high –

Till ray by ray they pour the mingled shower

Of living glory o’er the quiet sky:-

Or where converging streams in glassy sheen

Blend to a mirror: – even there behold

The face of that high firmament serene

A downward heaven of imaged lights unfold?

Ye Hills ! they have not known ye, who declare

That o’er your wastes the Muses never tread;-

Sisters of song ! still to the upland air,

And haunts obscure, and ancient fountains led.

And I have stood beside some dark-browed rock,

And seen therefrom the stainless waters flow-

Spread their live crystal o’er each jutting block,

And streak with emerald sod their tracks below.

And even as thereby I mused alone,

Felt the puissant mystery prevail-

The force of Song, the element unknown,

Filling the heart with streams that cannot fail:-

No, – cannot fail ! where all becomes a sense

Of something wonderful, and great, and high;-

The far horizon girdling the Immense

of height, and cloud, and precipice, and sky;

The deep deep glen, where, as a line of light,

Flashing their azurn rays, fair rivers wind;

Now lost in darkening steeps, now issuing bright,

To leave their nature fountains far behind:

The voice of wild-birds, borne upon the gale,

The bittern’s scream, the curlew’s far shrill note;

There the night-raven cries along the vale,

And whirring wings o’er twilight waters float.

Nor less the meet romance of softer song,

O’er thee, misnamed Desert, we may hear,

What tones of choral joy are breathed along

Thy flower-decked wilds in Spring-tide of the year !

Thou mayest be a desert unto those

Who feel no love but for what man hath made;

Who mid the stir of crowded walls enclose

Mind, feeling, thought, – till all alike be shade.

Oh dartmoor ! still undeemed of, and alone,-

For thee what hand hath touched the powerful string?

Few know thy attributes, few tempt thy zone,

Or from thy dells one minstrel floweret bring !

I claim thee as mine own – and I may well

From early right, and long attachment claim-

For thou hast oft inspired the artless shell

That breathed its spirit in no path of fame.

Mine infant eyes gazed on thy peaks so oft,

That dear indeed is memory of thee !

What time, while musing on thy world aloft,

I pondered what its solitudes might be.

For I was one, who in thy precincts saw

Long years pass on, remote from ways of men;

Till time subdued fond childhood’s nameless awe,

Yet left the love of all beloved then.

Enough ! my string is rude, – my song a lay

Of passioned feelings reckless of the Lyre-

A tameless soul that loves to breathe away

In strains untaught, the gushes of its fire.

And thus sometimes a Spirit of the Wild

Possesses every chord that answers there;

Till I become its own unfettered Child,

Its visions learn, its inspirations share !

Sophie Dixon – February 4th 1825

Now, as far as poetry goes, I will freely admit my complete ignorance of the subject. It therefore goes to say that I have undoubtedly missed numerous points and subtleties in the above poem. But, all I can glean is that Sophie Dixon is arguing the point that Dartmoor is an uninspiring place by describing its many natural beauties? Apart from that I didn’t understand a word of it. However, this is a noted piece of Dartmoor Verse amongst the experts, hence its inclusion here.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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