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1Late in an evening as I walked alone,
2I heard the Thames most sadly make her moan.
3As she came weeping from her
She3thus bewailed the learned shepherds’ king:
5Amintas, sad Amintas, sits forlorn,
6And his fair
Chloris4now’s become the scorn
ingrate, licentious dames6.
8No marvel, then, if poor afflicted Thames
9With salt abortive tears does wash this city,
10As full of blood and lies as void of pity.
Perfidious7town, know thou the power of fate.
12Thy long felicity shall find a date,
13And I may live to see another turn
14When thy proud fabric shall unpitied burn.
15Then Heaven, just Heaven, withhold thy rain,
16And I will leave my channel once again,
17As when my holy
Albian8’s blood was spilt,
18Seeing to wash away thy horrid guilt
19Is more impossible than ’tis to change
The skins of Negroes that in Afric’ range9.
21Then when thou fryest in vengeful flames of fire,
genius10ready to expire,
23Thy tongue and mouth sable as salamander
24With speaking ’gainst thy king and queen such slander,
25Then not a drop of my cool crystal wave
26To cool thy sulfurous tongue or life to save,
27But when I have of thee seen all my lust
28And all thy pride and glory turned to dust,
29Then I triumphant with my watery train
30Will make this city
31But O, thy blood and perjuries repent,
32Then Heaven I hope in mercy will relent.
33Thy king restore, call home his queen again,
34Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vain.
35Hast thou forgot (ay me), so have not I,
halcyon days12, the sweet tranquility
37That we enjoyed under his happy reign,
38Which Heaven will once restore to us again,
dismal line of dissolution13
40(Which oh, forbid) be drawn upon this nation.
41Oft have I borne upon my silver breast
42His lovely Chloris
like Aurora dressed14,
43With youth and beauty, with her princely spouse.
44Envied I was by
Severn, Humber, Ouse15.
45The sacred Dee said she no more would boast
46Her showing conquest on the conquering coast,
47Though Edgar’s glory from her river springs
48When he in triumph by eight captive kings
49Was rowed upon her famous crystal stream;
50Those former honors showed now like a dream.
51Nay, the Danube said she would ne’er rehearse
52Her being biggest in the universe.
53Even Tagus would not brag of golden sands,
54But said she envied more my happy strands;
55So said the Loire. In envy Po
56Though she were honored by a Phaeton.
57And Egypt’s glory, Nilus, stately stream,
58Said her felicities were but a dream
59When on her o’erflowing waves were seen
60The Roman eagles and her black-eyed queen.
61And silver Ganges said the sacrifice
Banians17brought with elevated eyes,
63Though all their carcasses by fire calcined
64Were in her purifying waves refined;
65Though all their wealth and treasure in they hurled,
66And she were lady of the eastern world;
67Yet all that glory she did count a toy
68Compared, she said, with happy Thames her joy.
69Tiber said of Horatius’ valor brave
70She ne’er would speak but I the praise should have.
71Crystal Euphrates never did envy
72The glory of no other flood but I,
73Though from a thousand founts her stream doth spring;
74Yet did she never bear so good a king.
75Through lofty Babylon her river flows
76And earthly paradise she doth enclose;
77Though brave Semiramis enlarge her fame,
78Yet doth she envy still the English Thame.
79But now, alas, they envy me no more,
80But with their tears my heavy loss deplore.
81Oft have I borne my sacred sovereign’s barge,
82Being richly gilt, most proud of such a charge.
83My waves would swell to see his princely face,
84Each billow loth to give his fellow place.
85Sometimes they would rise to kiss his royal hand,
86And hardly would give back at my command.
87Billow with billow strive, and ruffling roar,
88Scorning the blow of either hand or oar.
89But now insulting on my billows ride
90The kingdom’s scourges and this city’s pride,
91Which make my trembling stream lamenting roar
92And her sad loss with troubled breast deplore.
93Come kind Charybdis, come, oh come, and help’s;
94Sweet lovely Scylla, bring thy barking whelps.
95Then should they need no monument nor tomb,
96But Oceanus’ dark and horrid womb
Should them involve18. But wishes are in vain;
98I will roar out my grief unto the main.
99Now all the beauty that my waves adorn
100Are snowy swans that sadly swim forlorn;
101Nor do they in the sun their feathers prune,
102As they were wont, nor yet their voices tune,
103But in despairs, hanging their head and wing,
This kingdom’s dirges they expiring sing19.
105Oh that it in my power were to refuse
106To see this town, like crystal
107Below this cursed Earth I would hide my head,
108And run amongst the caverns of the dead,
109Where my pure wave with Acheron should mix,
110With Lethe, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx;
Then would I waft them to the stygian shade21
112Examples unto rebels to be made.
113Oh my sad heart, these are but foolish dreams,
114For they triumph upon my conquered streams.
115Yet this I’ll do while sighs breathes up my spring;
116I’ll trickle tears for my afflicted king,
117And look how far one drop of crystal Thames
118Doth run, so far I’ll memorize their fames;
119So shall my grief immortalize them names.
120I hearing these complaints, though time to sleep,
121Sat sadly down, and with her ’gan to weep.