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


Greenwich Hill

By William Gifford (1756–1826)

THOUGH clouds obscured the morning hour,

And keen and eager blew the blast,

And drizzling fell the cheerless shower,

As, doubtful, to the skiff we passed,

All soon, propitious to our prayer;

Gave promise of a brighter day;

The clouds dispersed in purer air,

The blasts in zephyrs died away.

So have we, love, a day enjoyed,

On which we both—and yet who knows?—

May dwell with pleasure unalloyed,

And dread no thorn beneath the rose.

How pleasant from that dome-crowned hill

To view the varied scene below,

Woods, ships, and spires, and, lovelier still,

The circling Thames’ majestic flow!

How sweet, as indolently laid,

We overhung that long-drawn dale,

To watch the checkered light and shade

That glanced upon the shifting sail!

And when the shadow’s rapid growth

Proclaimed the noontide hour expired,

And, though unwearied, nothing loath,

We to our simple meal retired;

The sportive wile, the blameless jest,

The careless mind’s spontaneous flow,

Gave to that simple meal a zest

Which richer tables may not know.

The babe that on the mother’s breast

Has toyed and wantoned for a while,

And, sinking in unconscious rest,

Looks up to catch a parting smile,

Feels less assured than thou, dear maid,

When, ere thy ruby lips could part

(As close to mine thy cheek was laid),

Thine eyes had opened all thy heart.

Then, then I marked the chastened joy

That lightly o’er thy features stole,

From vows repaid (my sweet employ),

From truth, from innocence of soul;

While every word dropt on my ear

So soft (and yet it seemed to thrill),

So sweet that ’t was a heaven to hear,

And e’en thy pause had music still.

And O, how like a fairy dream

To gaze in silence on the tide,

While soft and warm the sunny gleam

Slept on the glassy surface wide!

And many a thought of fancy bred,

Wild, soothing, tender, undefined,

Played lightly round the heart, and shed

Delicious languor o’er the mind.

So hours like moments winged their flight,

Till now the boatmen on the shore,

Impatient of the waning light,

Recalled us by the dashing oar.

Well, Anna, many days like this

I cannot, must not hope to share;

For I have found an hour of bliss

Still followed by an age of care.

Yet oft when memory intervenes—

But you, dear maid, be happy still,

Nor e’er regret, midst fairer scenes,

The day we passed on Greenwich Hill.