Old as Duncliffe Hill

Aye, we are wont to overshoot
The truth, by words less true than bold,
As formerly we used to put
An oldish thing, as over old,
And when we saw or talked about
Some house-gear, or a garment, out
Of fashion, we would all but shout
" Why that's as old as Duncliffe Hill."

A mossy house, with bulging wall,
Or door or window fall'n awry,
Or oak that leant as if to fall,
Or elm that now began to die,
Or coat well kept through half a life,
Or some old gown of some good wife,
Of shape that now no more was rife,
Was called " as old as Duncliffe Hill."

And so with overshooting speech
We lengthen'd lives a thousandfold,
And gave to men a boundless streech
Of years, if they were very old;
And if a youthful bride should wed
A husband with a silver'd head,
" Hah! hah! she has for mate," we said,
" A man as old as Duncliffe Hill."

The early fathers of our race,
For many hundred years ago,
Beheld that hill before their face
From roads that led them to and fro.
Old seems to us the time when shone
Above their opening lives the sun,
And old their time at last outrun,
But not so old as Duncliffe Hill.

Before a Blackmore wood was green,
Or man had hewn a walling stone,
Or ever cast a bank between
Another's land-share and his own;
Ere airy Shaston had a floor,
It may be ere the water wore
Out Stour's long track towards the shore,
Arose the head of Duncliffe Hill.
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