The Two Springs

by William Somervile

William Somervile

Two sister Springs, from the same parent hill,
Born on the same propitious day,
Through the cleft rock distill;
Adown the reverend mountain's side
Through groves of myrtle glide,
Or through the violet beds obliquely stray.
The laurel, each proud victor's crown,
From them receives her high renown;
From them the curling vine
Her clusters big with racy wine;
To them her oil the peaceful olive owes,
And her vermilion blush the rose:
The gracious streams in smooth meanders flow,
To every thirsty root dispense
Their kindly cooling influence,
And Paradise adorns the mountain's brow.
 But, oh! the sad effect of pride!
These happy twins at last divide.
"Sister,— exclaims the' ambitious Spring,
"What profit do these labours bring?
Always to give, and never to enjoy,
A fruitless and a mean employ!
Stay here inglorious if you please,
And loiter out a life of indolence and ease:
Go, humble drudge, each thistle rear,
And nurse each shrub, your daily care,
While, pouring down from this my lofty source,
I deluge all the plain,
No dams shall stop my course,
And rocks oppose in vain.
See where my foaming billows flow,
Above the hills my waves aspire,
The shepherds and their flocks retire,
And tallest cedars as they pass in sign of homage bow,
To me each tributary spring
Its supplemental stores shall bring;
With me the rivers shall unite,
The lakes beneath my banners fight,
Till the proud Danube and the Rhine
Shall own their fame eclips'd by mine;
Both gods and men shall dread my watry sway,
Nor these in cities safe, nor in their temples they,
 Away the haughty boaster flew,
Scarce bade her sister stream a cool adieu:
Her waves grow turbulent and bold,
Not gently murmuring as of old,
But roughly dash against the shore,
And toss their spumy heads, and proudly roar.
The careful farmer with surprise
Sees the tumultuous torrent rise;
With busy looks the rustic band appear
To guard their growing hopes, the promise of the year
All hands unite; with dams they bound
The rash rebellious stream around;
In vain she foams, in vain she raves,
In vain she curls her feeble waves;
Besieg'd at last on every side,
Her source exhausted and her channel dried,
(Such is the fate of impotence and pride!)
A shallow pond she stands confin'd,
The refuge of the croaking kind.
Rushes and sags, an inbred foe,
Choke up the muddy pool below;
The tyrant sun on high
Exacts his usual subsidy;
And the poor pittance that remains
Each gaping cranny drains:
Too late the fool repents her haughty boast,
A nameless nothing in oblivion lost.
 Her sister Spring benevolent and kind,
With joy sees all around her blest,
The good she does into her generous mind
Returns again with interest.
The farmer oft invokes her aid
When Sirius nips the tender blade;
Her streams a sure elixir bring,
Gay plenty decks the fields, and a perpetual spring.
Where'er the gardener smooths her easy way
Her ductile streams obey.
Courteous she visits every bed,
Narcissus rears his drooping head
By her diffusive bounty fed.
Reviv'd from her indulgent urn,
Sad Hyacinth forgets to mourn;
Rich in the blessings she bestows,
All nature smiles where'er she flows.
Enamour'd with a nymph so fair,
See where the river-gods appear?
A nymph so eminently good,
The joy of all the neighbourhood;
They clasp her in their liquid arms,
And not in the abundance of her charms.
Like old Alpheus fond, their wanton streams they join'd,
Like Arethusa she, as lovely and as kind.
 Now swell'd into a mighty flood,
Her channel deep and wide,
Still she persists in doing good,
Her bounty flows with every tide.
A thousand rivulets in her train
With fertile waves enrich the plain:
The scaly herd, a numerous throng,
Beneath her silver billows glide along,
Whose still-increasing shoals supply
The poor man's wants, the great one's luxury:
Here all the feather'd troops retreat,
Securely ply their oary feet,
Upon her floating herbage graze,
And with their tuneful notes resound her praise.
Her flocks and herds in safety feed,
And fatten in each flowery mead:
No beasts of prey appear
The watchful shepherd to beguile.
No monsters of the deep inhabit here,
Nor the voracious shark nor wily crocodile:
But Delia and her nymphs, chaste silvan queen,
By mortals' prying eyes unseen,
Bathe in her flood, and sport upon her borders green.
Here merchants, careful of their store,
By angry billows tost,
Anchor secure beneath her shore,
And bless the friendly coast.
 Soon mighty fleets in all their pride
Triumphant on her surface ride:
The busy trader on her banks appears,
An hundred different tongues she hears.
At last, with wonder and surprise
She sees a stately city rise;
With joy the happy flood admires,
The lofty domes, the pointed spires,
The porticos, magnificently great,
Where all the crowding nations meet;
The bridges that adorn her brow,
From bank to bank their ample arches stride,
Through which her curling waves in triumph glide.
And in melodious murmurs flow.
Now grown a port of high renown,
The treasure of the world her own,
Both Indies with their precious stores
Pay yearly tribute to her shores.
Honour'd by all, a rich well-peopled stream;
Not Father Thames himself of more esteem.


The pow'r of kings, (if rightly understood)
Is but a grant from Heav'n of doing good.
Proud tyrants, who maliciously destroy,
And ride o'er ruins with malignant joy,
Humbled in dust, soon to their cost shall know
Heav'n our avenger, and mankind their foe,
While gracious monarchs reap the good they sow:
Blessing, are bless'd; far spreads their just renown,
Consenting nations their dominion own,
And joyful happy crowds support their throne.
In vain the pow'rs of earth and hell combine,
Each guardian angel shall protect that line,
Who, by their virtues, prove their right divine.

Last updated April 01, 2023