Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Ribbledin; or, the Christening

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

Ribbledin, the River

Ribbledin; or, the Christening

By Ebenezer Elliott (1781–1849)

NO name hast thou, lone streamlet

That lovest Rivilin!

Here, if a bard may christen thee,

I ’ll call thee “Ribbledin”;

Here, where first murmuring from thine urn,

Thy voice deep joy expresses;

And down the rock, like music, flows

The wildness of thy tresses.

Here, while beneath the umbrage

Of Nature’s forest bower,

Bridged o’er by many a fallen birch,

And watched by many a flower,

To meet thy cloud-descended love,

All trembling, thou retirest,—

Here will I murmur to thy waves

The sad joy thou inspirest.

Dim world of weeping mosses!

A hundred years ago,

Yon hoary-headed holly-tree

Beheld thy streamlet flow:

See how he bends him down to hear

The tune that ceases never!

Old as the rocks, wild stream, he seems,

While thou art young forever.

Wildest and lonest streamlet!

Gray oaks, all lichened o’er!

Rush-bristled isles! ye ivied trunks

That marry shore to shore!

And thou, gnarled dwarf of centuries,

Whose snaked roots twist above me!

O for the tongue or pen of Burns

To tell you how I love ye!

Would that I were a river,

To wander all alone

Through some sweet Eden of the wild,

In music of my own;

And bathed in bliss, and fed with dew,

Distilled o’er mountains hoary,

Return unto my home in heaven

On wings of joy and glory!

Or that I were the lichen

That in this roofless cave

(The dim geranium’s lone boudoir)

Dwells near the shadowed wave,

And hears the breeze-bowed tree-top’s sigh,

While tears below are flowing,

For all the sad and lovely things

That to the grave are going!

O that I were a primrose,

To bask in sunny air!

Far, far from all the plagues that make

Town-dwelling men despair!

Then would I watch the building birds,

Where light and shade are moving,

And lovers’ whisper, and love’s kiss,

Rewards the loved and loving!

Or that I were a skylark,

To soar and sing above,

Filling all hearts with joyful sounds,

And my own soul with love!

Then o’er the mourner and the dead,

And o’er the good man dying,

My song should come like buds and flowers,

When music warbles flying.

O that a wing of splendor,

Like yon wild cloud, were mine!

Yon bounteous cloud, that gets to give,

And borrows to resign!

On that bright wing, to climes of spring

I ’d bear all wintry bosoms,

And bid hope smile on weeping thoughts,

Like April on her blossoms;

Or like the rainbow, laughing

O’er Rivilin and Don,

When misty morning calleth up

Her mountains, one by one,

While glistening down the golden broom,

The gem-like dew-drop raineth,

And round the little rocky isles

The little wave complaineth.

O that the truth of beauty

Were married to my rhyme!

That it might wear a mountain charm

Until the death of Time!

Then, Ribbledin! would all the best

Of Sorrow’s sons and daughters

See truth reflected in my song,

Like beauty on thy waters.

No longer nameless streamlet,

That marriest Rivilin!

Henceforth lone Nature’s devotees

Would call thee “Ribbledin,”

Whenever, listening where thy voice

Its first wild joy expresses,

And down the rocks all wildly flows

The wildness of thy tresses.