In this, the second of the weekly quotations from Aurora Leigh, Aurora details her initial impressions of England upon her arrival there from Italy.
Then, land! – then, England! oh, the frosty cliffs
Looked cold upon me. Could I find a home
Among these mean red houses through the fog?
And when I heard my father’s language first
From alien lips which had no kiss for mine
I wept aloud, then laughed, then wept, then wept,
And some one near me said the child was mad
Through much sea-sickness. The train swept us on.
Was this my father’s England? the great isle?
The ground seemed cut up from the fellowship
Of verdure, field from field, as man from man;
The skies themselves looked low and positive,
As almost you could touch them with a hand,
And dared to do it they were so far off
From God’s celestial crystals; all things blurred
And dull and vague. Did Shakespeare and his mates
Absorb the light here? – not a hill or stone
With heart to strike a radiant colour up
Or active outline on the indifferent air.
(Aurora Leigh, Book One, ll.251-69)