Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Cataract of Lodore

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


The Cataract of Lodore

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

Described in Rhymes for the Nursery

“HOW does the water

Come down at Lodore?”

My little boy asked me

Thus once on a time;

And moreover he tasked me

To tell him in rhyme.

Anon, at the word,

There first came one daughter,

And then came another,

To second and third

The request of their brother,

And to hear how the water

Comes down at Lodore,

With its rush and its roar,

As many a time

They had seen it before.

So I told them in rhyme,

For of rhymes I had store;

And ’t was in my vocation

For their recreation

That so I should sing,

Because I was Laureate

To them and the king.

From its sources which well

In the tarn on the fell;

From its fountains

In the mountains,

Its rills and its gills,—

Through moss and through brake

It runs and it creeps

For a while, till it sleeps

In its own little lake.

And thence at departing,

Awakening and starting,

It runs through the reeds,

And away it proceeds

Through meadow and glade,

In sun and in shade,

And through the wood-shelter,

Among crags in its flurry,



Here it comes sparkling,

And there it lies darkling;

Now smoking and frothing

Its tumult and wrath in,

Till, in this rapid race

On which it is bent,

It reaches the place

Of its steep descent.

The cataract strong

Then plunges along,

Striking and raging,

As if a war waging

Its caverns and rocks among;

Rising and leaping,

Sinking and creeping,

Swelling and sweeping,

Showering and springing,

Flying and flinging,

Writhing and ringing,

Eddying and whisking,

Spouting and frisking,

Turning and twisting,

Around and around

With endless rebound!

Smiting and fighting,

A sight to delight in;

Confounding, astounding,

Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.

Collecting, projecting,

Receding and speeding,

And shocking and rocking,

And darting and parting,

And threading and spreading,

And whizzing and hissing,

And dripping and skipping,

And hitting and splitting,

And shining and twining,

And rattling and battling,

And shaking and quaking,

And pouring and roaring,

And waving and raving,

And tossing and crossing,

And flowing and going,

And running and stunning,

And foaming and roaming,

And dinning and spinning,

And dropping and hopping,

And working and jerking,

And guggling and struggling,

And heaving and cleaving,

And moaning and groaning;

And glittering and frittering,

And gathering and feathering,

And whitening and brightening,

And quivering and shivering,

And hurrying and skurrying,

And thundering and floundering;

Dividing and gliding and sliding,

And falling and brawling and sprawling,

And driving and riving and striving,

And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling,

And sounding and bounding and rounding,

And bubbling and troubling and doubling,

And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,

And clattering and battering and shattering;

Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,

Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,

Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,

Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling,

And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,

And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,

And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,

And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,

And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping,

And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;

And so never ending, but always descending,

Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending,

All at once and all o’er, with a mighty uproar;

And this way the water comes down at Lodore.