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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

Rother, the River

Don and Rother

By Ebenezer Elliott (1781–1849)

AGAIN we meet, where often we have met,

Dear Rother! native Don!

We meet again, to talk, with vain regret,

Of deedless aims! and years remembered yet,—

The past and gone!

We meet again,—perchance to meet no more!

O rivers of the heart!

I hear a voice, unvoyaged billows o’er,

Which bids me hasten to their pathless shore,

And cries, “Depart!”

“Depart!” it cries. “Why linger on the stage

Where virtues are veiled crimes?

Have I not read thee, even from youth to age?

Thou blotted book, with only one bright page!

Thy honest rhymes!

“Depart, pale drone! What fruit-producing flower

Hast thou reared on the plain?

What useful moments count’st thou in thine hour?

What victim hast thou snatched from cruel power?

What tyrant slain?”

I will obey the power whom all obey.

Yes, rivers of the heart!

O’er that blind deep, where morning casts no ray

To cheer the oarless wanderer on his way,

I will depart.

But first, O rivers of my childhood! first

My soul shall talk with you;

For on your banks my infant thoughts were nursed;

Here from the bud the spirit’s petals burst,

When life was new.

Before my fingers learned to play with flowers,

My feet through flowers to stray;

Ere my tongue lisped, amid your dewy bowers,

Its first glad hymn to mercy’s sunny showers

And air and day;

When in my mother’s arms, an infant frail,

Along your windings borne,

My blue eye caught your glimmer in the vale,

Where halcyons darted o’er your willows pale,

On wings like morn.

Ye saw my feelings round that mother grow,

Like green leaves round the root!

Then thought, with danger came, and flowered like woe!

But deeds, the fervent deeds that blush and glow,

Are virtue’s fruit.