Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX. 1876–79.

Greece: Permessus, the River


By James Gates Percival (1795–1856)

(From Greece, from Mount Helicon)

THEN be my guide,

Wandering Termessus, upward through thy vale,

And let me find, beneath the twisted boughs

Of these old evergreens, coolness and shade,

To make my toil the easier. Darkly rolls

Thy current under them, and hollower sounds

Thy hidden roar. I just can catch a glimpse

Of yon deep pool, dark and mysterious,

Sunk in its well of rock; and now from out

A tuft of seeded fern I see thee plunge,

Tinted with golden green, for there a sunbeam

Strays through thy arch of shade. Still as I climb

Thy voice goes with me, like the laborer’s song,

To cheer me; and anon I see thee flashing

Through the laburnum thickets, rivalling

Their golden flowers; and then thou rushest by

Crested with foam, the whiter for the darkness

That covers thee; and then I pause and hang

Over a broad, smooth mirror, where the sky

Looks in, and sees itself, as purely blue,

As vast and round, and all its cloudy folds,

Their snowy bosses and their iris fringes

Are there, and all the circling rocks repeat

Their lights and shadows in that vacancy,

So clear, it seems but air. Thou rollest on

Thus brightly, and for ages thou hast kept

This ever-varying, yet eternal way;

And like the voice of a divinity

Thou pourest thy endless song. But now the rocks

That hemmed thee in recede, and, round and fair,

The open vale of Aganippe smiles

To greet me, as a fond and gentle mistress

Welcomes her weary lover, when he comes

At evening to her bower.