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

Thames, the River

The Glories of Our Thames

By William Cox Bennett (1820–1895)

O, MANY a river song has sung and dearer made the names

Of Tweed and Ayr and Nith and Doon, but who has sung our Thames?

And much green Kent and Oxfordshire and Middlesex it shames

That they ’ve not given long since one song to their own noble Thames.

O, clear are England’s waters all, her rivers, streams, and rills,

Flowing stilly through her valleys lone and winding by her hills;

But river, stream, or rivulet through all her breadth who names

For beauty and for pleasantness with our own pleasant Thames.

The men of grassy Devonshire the Tamar well may love,

And well may rocky Derbyshire be noisy of her Dove;

But with all their grassy beauty, nor Dove nor Tamar shames,

Nor Wye, beneath her winding woods, our own green, pleasant Thames.

I care not if it rises in the Seven Wells’ grassy springs,

Or at Thames’ head whence the rushy Churn its gleaming waters brings,

From the Cotswolds to the heaving Nore, our praise and love it claims,

From the Isis’ fount to the salt-sea Nore, how pleasant is the Thames!

O, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire well its gleaming waters love,

And Oxfordshire and Berkshire rank it all their streams above;

Nor Middlesex nor Essex nor Kent nor Surrey claims

A river equal in their love to their own noble Thames.

How many a brimming river swells its waters deep and clear,

The Windrush and the Cherwell and the Thame to Dorset dear,

The Kennet and the Loddon that have music in their names,

But no grandeur like to that in yours, my own mast-shadowed Thames.

How many a city of renown beside its green course stands!

How many a town of wealth and fame, how famous through all lands!

Fair Oxford, pleasant Abingdon and Reading, world-known names,

Crowned Windsor, Hampton, Richmond, all add glory to our Thames.

But what wide river through the world, though broad its waters be,

A London with its might and wealth upon its banks shall see?

The greatness of earth’s greatest mart, that to herself she claims,

The world’s great wonder, England’s boast, gives glory to our Thames.

What hugest river of the earth such fleets as hers e’er bore,

Such tribute rich from every land, such wealth from every shore,

Such memories of mighty ones whose memories are fames,

Who from their mighty deeds afar came homewards up the Thames?

In Westminster’s old Abbey’s vaults, what buried greatness lies!

Nelson and Wellington sleep there where Wren’s dome fills the skies;

Here stands proud England’s senate-house with all its mighty fames,

These are the boast of Englishmen, the glory of our Thames.

How many a river of the earth flows through a land of slaves!

Her banks are thronged with freemen’s homes, are heaped with freemen’s graves;

Name the free races of the earth, and he who tells them names

Freemen of the free blood of those who dwell beside our Thames.

How many a heart in many a land yearns to you with what pride,

What love, by the far Ganges’ banks, by the green Murray’s side!

By Ohio’s waves, Columbia’s stream, how many a free heart names,

O, with what love! the old dear homes they left beside the Thames.

River of England, your green banks no arméd feet, thank God!

No hostile hosts, no stranger ranks for centuries past have trod;

O, may no foemen ever come, to threat your homes with flames!

But should they come we ’ll show them soon what hearts are by the Thames.

Flow on in glory, still flow on, O Thames, unto the sea,

Through glories gone, through grandeurs here, through greatness still to be:

Through the free homes of England flow, and may yet higher fames,

Still nobler glories, star your course, O my own native Thames!