Sunk between cool meadows
The waters slide,
Lapping the soil as lightly as long shadows
That slowly eastward glide
With the slow tide.
Here are the rippled holes
Where the shy sudden hunted water-voles
Are in and out before the eye marked well
Their coming and going. Above, the broken edge
Of grass and trampled sedge
And grass again, and one lone willow stooping
Her arms to clasp the arms that rise to hers,
And leaves on wet leaves drooping,
Though nothing stirs
Except that white Armada on the proud
Breast of the stream. Now the white sails swell
As the wind darts among the airy crowd,
And now disperse
So slowly that the eye cannot mark well
Their gradual unbuilding as the cloud
Spreads at the wind's spell.
Under the willow where great kingcups are
The only flower and every flower a star
In the green grass,
I watch the white wind pass
Amid the cloud and—ere the eye mark well—
Building not ships but towers of monstrous height,
With lancets shooting forth a startling light,
And battlements heroic, and steep flight
Of lesser towers, and shadow-moat below:—
Upheaved a-sudden against the marching might
Of far-off night.
And yonder, humbler gables in the glow
Of the clouds' lesser white,
And windows in the clouds roofed as with snow,
And scarce below
Ely's vast fortress Tower uplifted nigh
The snowy gables of the sky.
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