Lonely stream of rushing water,
From the rock that gave thee birth,
Hast thou fallen, O Naiad's daughter!
Mingling with the common earth?
Shall Carrara's snowy marble
Never more thy waves inurn;
That with wild and plaintive warble,
By their broken temple mourn?
Nor thy dolphins lying shattered,
Fling their columns up again,
That in radiant glory scattered,
Fell to the earth a jewelled rain
Must the bending beeches only,
Veil thy desolate decay,
Spreading solemnly and lonely
O'er thy waters, dark as they?
Pallid Autumn‐leaves are lying
On thy hollow marble tomb,
And the willows round it sighing,
Wave their bannerets of gloom.
Still thou flowest ever, ever
Like a loving heart that gives
Smiles and blessings, though it never
Meeteth smile from one who lives.
Roughest rocks to polished beauty
Changing as thou flowest on;
Such the Poet's heaven‐taught duty,
Mid the stony‐hearted throng!
Thus thy voice to me hath spoken,
Falling, falling from on high,
As a chord in music, broken
By a gently‐murmured sigh.
Ah! what sad yet glorious vision
Of my youth thy scenes unroll,
When I felt the Poet's mission
Kindling first within my soul;
When the passion and the glory
Of the far‐off future years,
Shone in radiant light before me,
Through the present dimm'd by tears.
Can thy stream recall the shadow
Of the spirit‐haunted boy,
Who in sunlight, through the meadow,
Roamed in deep and wondrous woundrous joy?
Yet bright memory still reaches,
All athwart thy glistening beams,
Where, beneath the shading beeches,
Lay the sunny child of dreams;
Weaving fancies bright as morning,
With its purple and its gold;
Strong to trample down earth's scorning
With the faith of men of old.
Ready life itself to render
At the shrine to which he bowed,
Knowing not the transient splendour
Gilded but the tempest‐cloud.
On my heart was still'd the laughter,
Cold the clay around the dead,
When I came in years long after
Here to rest my weary head.
Waked the sad tears fast and warm,
Once again the ancient place,
Till, like droppings of the storm,
They fell heavy on thy face.
Human voice was none to hear me
In that silence of the tomb;
But thy waters, sobbing near me,
Seemed responsive to the gloom;
And I flung my thoughts all idly
On thy current in a dream,
Like the pale leaves scattered widely
On thy autumn‐drifted stream.
Yet 'twas in that mournful hour
Rose the spirit's mighty words;
Never soul could know its power
Until sorrow swept the chords
Blended with each solemn feature
Of the lonely scenes I trod,
For the sacred love of Nature
Is the Poet's hymn to God.
Did He hear the words imploring
Of a strong heard tempest‐riven?
Did the tears of sorrow pouring
Rise like incense up to Heaven?
Ah! the heart that mutely prayeth
From the ashes of the past,
Finds the strength that ever stayeth,
Of the Holy, round it cast!
But the leaf in winter fadeth,
And the cygnet drops her plumes:
Time in passing ever shadeth
Human life in deeper glooms;
So, perchance, with white hair streaming,
In my age to thee I'll turn
Muse on life, with softened dreaming,
By thy broken marble urn.
While thy murmuring waters falling
dropp by dropp upon the plain,
Seem like spirit‐voices calling
Spirit‐voices not in vain;
For life's fleeting course they teach me,
With life's endless source on high,
Past and future thus may reach me,
While I learn from thee to die.
O stream! hath thy lonely torrent
Many ages yet to run?
O life! will thy mournful current
See many a setting sun?
I know not; but both are passing
From the sunlight into gloom
Yet the light we left will meet us
Once again beyond the tomb!