Lines On The Anio At Tivoli
One river from the mountain springs was born,
Into three several streams its course was torn.
For one a royal path was made; it ran,
Sheltered and screened, through channels paved by man;
A noble flood, a bounteous, beauteous river,
In light and glory rolling forth for ever.
One, to the children of the earth became
A slave unwilling, bound, but never tame.
Round lashing wheels its silver foam was spread,
Through murky chambers its bright waves were led,
Dread clangour of huge engines drowned its voice,
At its dark work forbidden to rejoice;
Close by its fiery foe its white waves boil,
Fierce ruddy flames beside it glow and toil,
Striving and labouring, panting, rushing past,
All stained and sullied it leaps free at last,
And down the huge cliffs with one shouting bound
Joins its fair sister on the level ground
Of a green valley. One sad stream was led
By God, not man, through chasms dark, drear, and dread:
Horrible depths ne'er visited by light,
Caves of despair, dismay, and thickest night;
There in an agony the lonely river
Leapt down, and turned, and writhed, and plunged for ever;
Seeking escape from out the hideous deep,
Where its wild waters were condemned to weep;
But this tormented stream too found its way,
At length to the sweet air of upper day;
And altogether they flow down to rest
One with the other in the Ocean's breast.
So ends all life that is but mortal breath,—
All fates are equal in the lap of Death.
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