Description of a River

Communicated by Mrs Flaxman

  — If to walk with me
It now may please thee, I will shew thee love.
A sight thou hast not seen:
A sight so lovely that in wonder thou
Will arch thy graceful brow:
Look thou, my gentle bride, towards that path
Of this so intricate and verdant grove
Where sit the birds embower’d!
Just there, where now, with soft & snowy plumes
Two social doves have spread their wings for flight,
Just there, thou shalt behold (oh pleasing wonder)
Springing amid the flowers
A living stream, that with a winding course
Flies rapidly away;
And as it flies, allures,
And tempts you to exclaim, sweet river stay!
Hence eager in pursuit
You follow, and the stream, as if it had
Desire to sport with you,
Through many a florid, many a grassy way,
Well known to him, in soft concealment flies:
But when at length he hears
You are afflicted to have lost his sight
He rears his watery locks, and seems to say;
(Gay with a gurgling smile)
“Follow! ah follow still my placid course!
If thou art pleas’d with me, with thee I sport.”
And thus with sweet deceit he leads you on
To the extremest bound
Of a fair flow’ry meadow; then at once
With quick impediment,
Says, “Stop! Adieu! For now, yes now, I leave you.”
 Then down a rock descends:
There, as no human foot can follow further,
The eye alone must follow him, and there,
In little space you see a mass of water
Collected in a deep and fruitful vale,
With laurel crown’d and olive,
With cypress, oranges, and lofty pines,
The limpid water in the sun’s bright ray
A perfect crystal seems,
Hence in its deep recess,
In the translucent wave,
You see a precious glittering sand of gold,
And bright as moving silver
Innumerable fish;
Here with melodious notes
The snowy swans upon the shining stream
Form their sweet residence;
And seem in warbling to the wind to say,
“Here let those rest who wish for perfect joy!”
  — So that, my dear companion
To walk with me will please thee.

May 6th 1811