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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Spain: Deva, the River

The River Deva

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

(From Covadonga)

A MOUNTAIN rivulet,

Now calm and lovely in its summer course,

Held by those huts its everlasting way

Towards Pionia. They whose flocks and herds

Drink of its water call it Deva. Here

Pelayo southward up the ruder vale

Traced it, his guide unerring. Amid heaps

Of mountain wreck, on either side thrown high,

The widespread traces of its wintry might,

The tortuous channel wound: o’er beds of sand

Here silently it flows; here from the rock

Rebutted, curls and eddies; plunges here

Precipitate; here roaring among crags,

It leaps and foams and whirls and hurries on.

Gray alders here and bushy hazels hid

The mossy side; their wreathed and knotted feet

Bared by the current, now against its force

Repaying the support they found, upheld

The bank secure. Here, bending to the stream

The birch fantastic stretched its rugged trunk,

Tall and erect from whence, as from their base,

Each like a tree, its silver branches grew.

The cherry here hung for the birds of heaven

Its rosy fruit on high. The elder there

Its purple berries o’er the water bent,

Heavily hanging. Here, amid the brook,

Gray as the stone to which it clung, half root,

Half trunk, the young ash rises from the rock;

And there its parent lifts a lofty head,

And spreads its graceful boughs; the passing wind

With twinkling motion lifts the silent leaves,

And shakes its rattling tufts.


The ascending vale,

Long straitened by the narrowing mountains, here

Was closed. In front a rock, abrupt and bare,

Stood eminent, in height exceeding far

All edifice of human power, by king

Or caliph, or barbaric sultan reared,

Or mightier tyrants of the world of old,

Assyrian or Egyptian, in their pride;

Yet far above, beyond the reach of sight,

Swell after swell, the heathery mountain rose.

Here, in two sources, from the living rock

The everlasting springs of Deva gushed.

Upon a smooth and grassy plat below,

By Nature there as for an altar drest,

They joined their sister stream, which from the earth

Welled silently. In such a scene rude man

With pardonable error might have knelt,

Feeling a present Deity, and made

His offering to the fountain nymph devout.