River Rhymes

A poem by John Campbell


We have poled our staunch canoe
Many a boiling torrent through;
Paddling where the eddies drew,
Athwart the roaring flood we flew.

Dip your paddles! make them leap,
Where the clear cold waters sweep.
Dip your paddles! steady keep,
Where breaks the rapid down the steep.


Where the wind, like censer, flings
Smoke-spray wider as it swings,
Hark! the aisle of rainbow rings
To falls that hymn the King of kings.


Lifting there our vessel tight,
Climbed we bank and rocky height,
Bore her through thick woods, where light
Fell dappling those green haunts of Night.


O'er the rush of billows hurled,
Where they tossed and leaped and curled,
Past each wave-worn boulder whirled,
How fast we sailed, no sail unfurled!


Laughs from parted lips and teeth
Hailed the quiet reach beneath,
Damascened in ferny sheath,
And girt with pine and maple wreath.


Oh, the lovely river there
Made all Nature yet more fair;
Wooded hills and azure air
Kissed, quivering, in the stream they share.


Plunged the salmon, waging feud
'Gainst the jewelled insect-brood;
From aerial solitude
An eagle's shadow crossed the wood.


Flapped the heron, and the grey
Halcyon talked from cedar's spray,
Drummed the partridge far away;--
Ah! could we choose to live as they!

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