TO THE RIVER BELL (HENDECASYLIABICS.) LITTLE Bela! Delightful, baffling river, All day long have I fished thy waters vainly; Vainly dangled my flies in futile casting Over humorist trout that lurk demurely Hidden under the weeds defying capture.
Never warier trout held any river, Lune or Severn or Tay or Southern Itchen; Nowhere else is the angler's art humaner, When thy channels are low and pools transparent.
Yet, 0 Bela! for all my creel be empty, Boon enough is it on thy banks to wander, Rich with blossoming thorn and golden king-cups.
Swifts and swallows white-breasted darting o'er thee Weave aerial curves of graceful motion ; Water-ouzels are here and water-wagtails Stepping daintily on thy new-washed pebbles; Water-rats, with their fur all sleek and dripping, Dive and splash, on the farther shore emerging.
Once a kingfisher flew, a sudden splendour—
Sapphire seemed he, or yet more gleaming jewel—.
Flashed, and vanishing left the daylight darker.
Bela! magical home of river wonders.
Thou art surely thyself the fairest marvel, As, responsive to every glint and shadow, Liquid colour and light thou fleetest onwards.
Glancing green as the green bough sways above thee, Rippling yonder in wavelets silver-crested, Mellow amber or brown, or blue as heaven, Or rose-petals of sunset o'er thee scattered, Blithely wearing thy robe of changeful beauty Singing ever adown the vale thou glidest.
At high noon when the thrush and the lark are silent, In deep night when are hushed the day's sweet voices, Aye thou chantest thy pilgrim sang unwearied.
Farewell, Bela! Thou dear delightful river !
Bright, immortal in youth that knows no aging !
May no far-away city steal thy fountains; May no hideous town insult thy borders; May thy water as now all pure and stainless, By green pastoral meads and springing cornfields, Flow to gladden a thousand generations.
Lady Bela, one favour yield thy minstrel ; With one guerdon requite his uncouth praises : Grant him, when to thy stream-side he returneth, Store of glittering trout to fill his pannier.
R H. LAW.