The Complaint Of Cherwell

ALL pensive from her osier-woven bow'r
Cherwell arose. Around her darkening edge
Pale Eve began the steaming mist to pour,
And breezes fann'd by fits the rustling sedge:
She rose, and thus she cried in deep despair,
And tore the rushy wreath that bound her streaming hair:

‘Ah! why,’ she cried, ‘should Isis share alone
The tributary gifts of tuneful fame!
Shall every song her happier influence own,
And stamp with partial praise her favourite name?
While I, alike to those proud domes allied,
Nor hear the Muse's call, nor boast a classic tide.

‘No chosen son of all yon fabling band
Bids my loose locks their glossy length diffuse;
Nor sees my coral-cinctur'd stole expand
Its folds, besprent with Spring's unnumber'd hues:
No poet builds my grotto's dripping cell,
Nor studs my crystal throne with many a speckled shell.

In Isis' vase if Fancy's eye discern
Majestic towers emboss'd in sculpture high;
Lo! milder glories mark my modest urn,
The simple scenes of pastoral imagery:
What though she pace sublime, a stately queen?
Mine is the gentle grace, the meek retiring mien.

Proud Nymph, since late the Muse thy triumphs sung,
No more with mine thy scornful naiads play,
(While Cynthia's lamp o'er the broad vale is hung,)
Where meet our streams, indulging short delay;
No more, thy crown to braid, thou deign'st to take
My cress-born flowers, that float in many a shady lake.

Vain bards! can Isis win the raptur'd soul,
Where Art each wilder watery charm invades?
Whose waves, in measur'd volumes taught to roll,
Or stagnant sleep, or rush in white cascades:
Whose banks with echoing industry resound,
Fenc'd by the foam-beat pier, and torrent-braving mound.

Lo! here no Commerce spreads the fervent toil,
To pour pollution o'er my virgin tide;
The freshness of my pastures to defile,
Or bruise the matted groves that fringe my side:
But Solitude, on this sequester'd bank,
'Mid the moist lilies sits, attir'd in mantle dank.

No ruder sounds my grazing herds affright,
Nor mar the milk-maid's solitary song:
The jealous halcyon wheels her humble flight,
And hides her emerald wing my reeds among;
All unalarm'd, save when the genial May
Bids wake my peopled shores, and rears the ripen'd hay.

Then scorn no more this unfrequented scene;
So to new notes shall my coy Echo string
Her lonely harp. Hither the brow serene,
And the slow pace of Contemplation bring:
Nor call in vain inspiring Ecstasy
To bid her visions meet the frenzy-rolling eye.

Whate'er the theme; if unrequited Love
Seek, all unseen, his bashful griefs to breathe;
Or Fame to bolder flights the bosom move,
Waving aloft the glorious epic wreath;
Here hail the Muses: from the busy throng
Remote, where Fancy dwells, and Nature prompts the song.
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