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

Thames, the River


By Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599)

(See full text.)

CALME was the day, and through the trembling ayre

Sweete-breathing Zephyrus did softly play

A gentle spirit, that lightly did delay

Hot Titans beames, which then did glyster fayre;

When I, (whose sullein care,

Through discontent of my long fruitlesse stay

In princes court, and expectation vayne

Of idle hopes, which still doe fly away,

Like empty shadows, did afflict my brayne,)

Walkt forth to ease my payne

Along the shoare of silver streaming Themmes;

Whose rutty bank, the which his river hemmes,

Was paynted all with variable flowers,

And all the meades adornd with dainty gemmes,

Fit to decke maydens bowres,

And crowne their paramours

Against the brydale day, which is not long:

Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song.


With that I saw two Swannes of goodly hewe

Come softly swimming downe along the lee;

Two fairer birds I yet did never see;

The snow, which doth the top of Pindus strew,

Did never whiter shew,

Nor Jove himselfe, when he a swan would be

For love of Leda, whiter did appeare;

Yet Leda was (they say) as white as he,

Yet not so white as these, nor nothing near;

So purely white they were,

That even the gentle stream, the which them bare,

Seem’d foule to them, and bad his billowes spare

To wet their silken feathers, least they might

Soyle their fayre plumes with water not so fayre,

And marre their beauties bright,

That shone as heavens light,

Against their brydale day, which was not long:

Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song.


So ended she; and all the rest around

To her redoubled that her undersong,

Which said, their brydale daye should not be long:

And gentle Eccho from the neighbour ground

Their accents did resound.

So forth those ioyous Birdes did passe along

Adowne the lee, that to them murmurde low,

As he would speake, but that he lackt a tong,

Yet did by signes his glad affection show,

Making his streame run slow.

And all the foule which in his flood did dwell

Gan flock about these twaine, that did excell

The rest, so far as Cynthia doth shend

The lesser stars. So they, enranged well,

Did on those two attend,

And their best service lend

Against their wedding day, which was not long:

Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song.

At length they all to mery London came,

To mery London, my most kyndly nurse,

That to me gave this lifes first native sourse,

Though from another place I take my name,

An house of auncient fame:

There when they came, whereas those bricky towres

The which on Themmes brode aged backe doe ryde,

Where now the studious lawyers have their bowers,

There whylome wont the Templer Knights to byde,

Till they decayd through pride;

Next whereunto there standes a stately place,

Where oft I gayned giftes and goodly grace

Of that great lord, which therein wont to dwell.

Whose want too well now feels my freendles case;

But ah! here fits not well

Olde woes, but ioyes, to tell

Against the bridale daye, which is not long:

Sweet Themmes! runne softly, till I end my song.