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English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Sir William Edmondstoune Aytoun

572. The Refusal of Charon

WHY look the distant mountains

So gloomy and so drear?

Are rain clouds passing o’er them,

Or is the tempest near?

No shadow of the tempest

Is there, nor wind nor rain—

’Tis Charon that is passing by,

With all his gloomy train.

The young men march before him,

In all their strength and pride;

The tender little infants,

They totter by his side;

The old men walk behind him,

And earnestly they pray—

Both old and young imploring him

To grant some brief delay.

‘O Charon! halt, we pray thee,

Beside some little town,

Or near some sparkling fountain,

Where the waters wimple down!

The old will drink and be refreshed,

The young the disc will fling,

And the tender little children

Pluck flowers beside the spring.’

‘I will not stay my journey,

Nor halt by any town,

Near any sparkling fountain,

Where the waters wimple down:

The mothers coming to the well

Would know the babes they bore,

The wives would clasp their husbands,

Nor could I part them more.’