Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  A Traveller’s Impression on the Nile

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV. 1876–79.

Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia: Nile, the River

A Traveller’s Impression on the Nile

By Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)

WHEN you have lain for weeks together

On such a noble river’s breast,

And learnt its face in every weather,

And loved its motions and its rest,—

’T is hard at some appointed place

To check your course and turn your prow,

And objects for themselves retrace

You past with added hope just now.

The silent highway forward beckons,

And all the bars that reason plants

Now disappointed fancy reckons

As foolish fears or selfish wants.

The very rapids, rocks, and shoals

Seem but temptations which the stream

Holds out to energetic souls,

That worthy of its love may seem.

But life is full of limits; heed not

One more or less,—the forward track

May often give you what you need not,

While wisdom waits on turning back.