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

Thames, the River

The Thames

By Sir John Denham (1615–1669)

(From Cooper’s Hill)

MY eye, descending from the hill, surveys

Where Thames among the wanton valleys strays.

Thames! the most loved of all the Ocean’s sons,

By his old sire, to his embraces runs,

Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,

Like mortal life to meet eternity;

Though with those streams he no resemblance hold,

Whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold:

His genuine and less guilty wealth to explore,

Search not his bottom, but survey his shore,

O’er which he kindly spreads his spacious wing

And hatches plenty for the ensuing spring;

Nor then destroys it with too fond a stay,

Like mothers which their infants overlay;

Nor with a sudden and impetuous wave,

Like profuse kings, resumes the wealth he gave.

No unexpected inundations spoil

The mower’s hopes, nor mock the ploughman’s toil;

But godlike his unwearied bounty flows;

First loves to do, then loves the good he does.

Nor are his blessings to his banks confined,

But free and common as the sea or wind;

When he, to boast or to disperse his stores,

Full of the tributes of his grateful shores,

Visits the world, and in his flying towers

Brings home to us, and makes both Indies ours;

Finds wealth where ’t is, bestows it where it wants,

Cities in deserts, woods in cities, plants.

So that to us no thing, no place, is strange,

While his fair bosom is the world’s Exchange.

O, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream

My great example, as it is my theme!

Though deep yet clear, though gentle yet not dull;

Strong without rage, without o’erflowing full.