River of Life
by Frederick Tennyson
River of Life, oh! if thy waters were
As golden bright as from afar they seem
As thick with blessed islands, and as fair
As hope beholds them anchor'd in sweet dream;
If they were paved with gems of all delights
As lovers see them; I would sail with thee
Onward, for ever onward, day and night
And breathe in summer till I reach'd the sea.
Oh! I would lift my sail at break of day
And launching forward with a shout and song
Thro' shade of leaves and blossoms cleave my way,
And feast my heart with music all day long;
And when the purple and the gold of even
Flush'd the gray currents I would drop asleep
Watching with rapturous eyes the hues of Heaven
And their unnumber'd shadows in the deep.
But thy still places into whirlpools spin;
Thy free fair currents glittering in the sun
Change into shallows full of rocks within,
Or stilly into fatal cataracts run;
Thy shores lead into howling wildernesses
Thro' walks of rose, thy overshadowing bowers
Hide perilous caverns where the serpent hisses,
And dragons slumber underneath the flowers.
River of Life, lo! I have furl'd my sail
Under the twilight of these ancient trees,
I listen to the water's sleepless wail,
I fill mine ears with sighs that never cease,
If armed hearts come stronger out of 111
The dust of conflict fills their eyes and ears;
Mine unaccustom'd heart will tremble still
With the old mirth and with the early tears.
Frederick Tennyson, of course, was the eldest brother of Charles Tennyson Turner and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.