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

Derwent, the River

The River Derwent

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

From “The Prelude

WAS it for this

That one, the fairest of all rivers, loved

To blend his murmurs with my nurse’s song,

And from his alder shades and rocky falls,

And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice

That flowed along my dreams? For this didst thou,

O Derwent! winding among grassy holms

Where I was looking on, a babe in arms,

Make ceaseless music that composed my thoughts

To more than infant softness, giving me

Amid the fretful dwellings of mankind

A foretaste, a dim earnest, of the calm

That Nature breathes among the hills and groves.

When he had left the mountains and received

On his smooth breast the shadow of those towers

That yet survive, a shattered monument

Of feudal sway, the bright blue river passed

Along the margin of our terrace walk;

A tempting playmate whom we dearly loved.

O, many a time have I, a five-years’ child,

In a small mill-race severed from his stream

Made one long bathing of a summer’s day;

Basked in the sun, and plunged and basked again

Alternate, all a summer’s day, or scoured

The sandy fields, leaping through flowery groves

Of yellow ragwort; or when rock and hill,

The woods, and distant Skiddaw’s lofty height,

Were bronzed with deepest radiance, stood alone

Beneath the sky, as if I had been born

On Indian plains, and from my mother’s hut

Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport,

A naked savage, in the thunder-shower.