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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 western spring,
4She thus bewailed the
learnéd shepherd’s king2:
Amintas3, sad Amintas, sits forlorn,
6And his fair Chloris now’s become the scorn
8No marvel, then, if poor afflicted Thames
abortive6tears 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
13And I may live to see another
14When thy proud
fabric10shall unpitied burn.
15Then Heaven, just Heaven, withhold thy rain,
16And I will leave my channel once again,
17As when my holy
Albion’s11blood was spilt;
Seeking12to wash away
19Is more impossible than ’tis to change
The skins of Negroes that in Afric range14.
21Then, when thou fryest in vengeful flames of fire,
genius15ready to expire—
23Thy tongue and mouth
24With speaking ’gainst thy king and queen such slander—
25Then not a drop of my cool crystal
26To cool thy
sulfurous19tongue, or life to save;
27But when I have of thee seen all my
28And all thy pride and glory turned to dust,
29Then I, triumphant with my watery train,
30Will make this city
blood23and perjuries repent;
32Then Heaven, I hope, in mercy will relent.
33Thy king restore, call home his
34Or all thy prayer and fasting is in vain.
35Hast thou forgot? Aye me—so have not I—
halcyon25days, the sweet tranquility
37That we enjoyed under his happy reign,
38Which heaven will once restore to us again,
39Unless the dismal line of dissolution
40(Which O, forbid) be
drawn26upon this nation.
41Oft have I born upon my silver
42His lovely Chloris, like
43With youth and beauty, with her princely spouse.
44Envied I was by
Severn, Humber, Ouse29;
Dee30said she no more would boast
Her showing conquest on the conquering coast31,
Edgar’s32glory 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.
Danube33said she would ne’er rehearse
52Her being biggest in the universe.
Tagus34would not brag of golden sands,
54But said she envied more my happy
So said the Loire36. In envy
56Though she were honored by a
57And Egypt’s glory,
Nilus40, stately stream,
58Said her felicities were but a dream,
59When on her o’erflowing waves were seen
60The Roman eagles and her
Ganges42said the sacrifice
Banians43brought with elevated eyes—
63Though all their carcasses, by fire
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 joy45.
Horatius47’s valor brave
70She ne’er would speak, but I the praise should have.
Euphrates48never 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.
Babylon49her river flows,
earthly paradise she doth enclose50,
Semiramis51enlarge 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
81Oft have I born 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 loath 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
The kingdom’s scourges and this city’s pride53,
91Which make my trembling stream lamenting roar,
92And her sad loss with troubled breast deplore.
Charybdis54, come, O come and
94Sweet lovely Scylla, bring thy barking
they57need no monument nor tomb,
Oceanus’s58dark and horrid womb
involve59. But wishes are in vain:
98I will roar out my grief unto the
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
wont61, nor yet their voices tune.
103But in despairs, hanging their head and wing,
105O, that it in my power were to refuse
106To see this town like crystal
107Below this curséd earth I would hide my head,
108And run amongst the caverns of the dead,
109Where my pure wave with
Lethe, Phlegethon, Cocytus, Styx66.
111Then would I
112Examples unto rebels to be made.
113O my sad heart, these are but foolish dreams,
114For they triumph upon my conquered streams.
115Yet this I’ll do while sighs
breathes up70my 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
120I, hearing these complaints, though time to sleep,
121Sat sadly down, and with her ’gan to weep.