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Littell's Living Age/Volume 169/Issue 2180/A Memory of the Thames

August's blithe sun flamed high o'erhead,
     And from his radiant quiver
Ten thousand burnished shafts had flung
     On hill, and mead, and river.

We sallied from the quaint white inn,
     And trimmed our dainty boat
That by the bridge in dimpled shade
     Rocked jauntily afloat.

Then pushed we to the wide main stream,
     But soon were fain to stray
Where Patrich's scant and slender brook
     Scarce winds a doubtful way.

'Twixt mazy banks we forced our keel
     O'erhung with hawthorn bushes,
And here through writhing water-weeds,
     And here through waving rushes.

What spoils those bowery shores must yield
     What wealth of scent and hue!
Posies that mocked Hyperion's beams,
     And shamed th' ethereal blue!

We pulled the loosestrife's crimson spikes,
     The floating lilies white;
We pulled the sceptred bulrushes,
     The marsh-stars golden bright.

Nor less, the woodbine's clustered crowns,
     And spines of meadow-sweet
With trailing bronze of bryony
     In careless union meet.

We pulled the bearded clematis
     in tangled garlands twined,
And azure-eyed forget-me-nots,
     Each oozy marge that lined.

Gay sprite! in flushed exultant mirth,
     I seem to see you yet,
Holding the bloomy prize aloft
     In both hands wringing wet.

The murmurous throb of sunlit wings
     Made musical the day,
Like sound of stir in silver chords
     Touched by an elf at play.

And racing swallows fleet and shrill,
     With chirp of tireless glee,
Skimmed rippling stream, or darted high —
     Not happier than we!

Anon some fluttered water-hen
     Made off with plashy shambles,
Or bright-eyed warbler of the copse
     Skipped nimbly through the brambles.

The minnows flashed, in startled troops,
     Full many a shining side;
And so we wandered, till we reached
     Fair Loddon's ampler tide:

Fair Loddon's ampler tide, that ran
     Darkling in willowy shade,
Where scarce, in latticed verdure lost,
     A truant sunbeam strayed.

By pebbly slope, by moss-clad bole,
     How sweet the watery swirl!
How fair the willow's pensile sprays
     Half emerald and half pearl!

On, on, 'neath leafy cool arcades
     I tugged the dripping oar,
Till Thames again our flower-decked skiff
     On his broad bosom bore.

We turned the prow. And Wargrave's lawns
     Astern slant trim and green;
We pierced the lock, where Shiplake's church
     Peers through its sylvan sheen.

What recked we that the westering sun
     Had dipped his ruddy lamp?
Or of the steam-white mist that showed
     A warning finger damp?

The latest swallow from the stream
     By this had disappeared,
And faint in windless twilight calm
     The beetles' hum we heard.

Her borrowed moisture now to earth
     The just air reconveyed,
And dropped a liquid crystal sphere
     On every grassy blade.

Now tranced beneath a glimmering sky
     Each feathery elm-top slept,
And, one by one, big bashful stars
     From heaven's hushed spaces crept.

I poised the sculls; you held the strings;
     We lingered face to face.
We spoke sweet words. Ah, would we might
     That sacred hour retrace!

You asked of me a little thing;
     I vowed — no matter what.
That vow is still inviolate;
     Believe me, will you not?