“Rivers Unknown to Song”
James Thomson
Wide waters in the waste; or, out of reach,
   Rough Alpine falls where late a glacier hung;
Or rivers groping for the alien beach,
Through continents, unsung.
Nay, not these nameless, these remote, alone;
   But all the streams from all the watersheds—
Peneus, Danube, Nile—are the unknown
   Young in their ancient beds.
Man has no tale for them. O travellers swift
   From secrets to oblivion! Waters wild
That pass in act to bend a flower, or lift
   The bright limbs of a child!
For they are new, they are fresh; there’s no surprise
   Like theirs on earth. O strange for evermore!
This moment’s Tiber with his shining eyes
   Never saw Rome before.
Man has no word for their eternity—
   Rhine, Avon, Arno, younglings, youth uncrowned:
Ignorant, innocent, instantaneous, free,
   Unwelcomed, unrenowned.

Webpage © 2001 ELC
Lane Core Jr. (lane@elcore.net)
Created April 14, 2001; not revised.