Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.

Rhone, the River

The Rhone

By Frédéric Mistral (1830–1914)

(From Mirèio)
Translated by Harriet W. Preston

THE LITTLE boat, in Andreloun’s control,

Parted the water silent as a sole,

The while the enamored maiden whom I sing,

Herself on the great Rhone adventuring,

Beside the urchin sat, and scanned the wave

Intently, with a dreamy eye and grave,

Till the boy-boatman spake: “Now knewest thou ever,

Young lady, how immense is the Rhone river?

Betwixt Camargue and Crau might holden be

Right noble jousts! That is Camargue!” said he;

“That isle so vast it can discern, I deem,

All the seven mouths of the Arlesian stream.”

The rose-lights of the morn were beauteous

Upon the river, as he chatted thus.

And the tartanes, with snowy sails outspread,

Tranquilly glided up the stream, impelled

By the light breeze that blew from off the deep,

As by a shepherdess her milk-white sheep.

And all along the shore was noble shade

By feathery ash and silver poplar made,

Whose hoary trunks the river did reflect,

And giant limbs with wild vines all bedeckt

With ancient vines and tortuous, that upbore

Their knotty, clustered fruit the waters o’er.

Majestically calm, but wearily

And as he fain would sleep, the Rhone passed by

Like some great veteran dying. He recalls

Music and feasting in Avignon’s halls

And castles, and profoundly sad is he

To lose his name and waters in the sea.