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


The Backs

By James Payn (1830–1898)

DROPPING down the river,

Down the glancing river,

Through the fleet of shallops,

Through the fairy fleet,

Underneath the bridges,

Carvéd stone and oaken,

Crowned with sphere and pillar,

Linking lawn with lawn,

Sloping swards of garden,

Flowering bank to bank;

Midst the golden noontide,

’Neath the stately trees,

Reaching out their laden

Arms to overshade us;

Midst the summer evens,

Whilst the winds were heavy

With the blossom-odors,

Whilst the birds were singing

From their sleepless nests.

Dropping down the river,

Down the branchéd river,

Through the hidden outlet

Of some happy stream,

Lifting up the leafy

Curtain that o’erhung it,

Fold on fold of foliage

Not proof against the stars.

Drinking ruby claret

From the silvered “Pewter,”

Spoil of ancient battle

On the “ready” Cam,

Ne’er to be forgotten

Pleasant friendly faces

Mistily discerning

Through the glass below.

Ah! the balmy fragrance

Of the mild Havanna!

Downed amidst the purple

Of our railway wrappers,

Solemn-thoughted, glorious

On the verge of June.

Musical the rippling

Of the tardy current,

Musical the murmur

Of the wind-swept trees,

Musical the cadence

Of the friendly voices

Laden with the sweetness

Of the songs of old.