Cadland, Southampton River
Poem By William Lisle Bowles
If ever sea-maid, from her coral cave,
Beneath the hum of the great surge, has loved
To pass delighted from her green abode,
And, seated on a summer bank, to sing
No earthly music; in a spot like this,
The bard might feign he heard her, as she dried
Her golden hair, yet dripping from the main,
In the slant sunbeam.
So the pensive bard
Might image, warmed by this enchanting scene,
The ideal form; but though such things are not,
He who has ever felt a thought refined;
He who has wandered on the sea of life,
Forming delightful visions of a home
Of beauty and repose; he who has loved,
With filial warmth his country, will not pass
Without a look of more than tenderness
On all the scene; from where the pensile birch
Bends on the bank, amid the clustered group
Of the dark hollies; to the woody shore
That steals diminished, to the distant spires
Of Hampton, crowning the long lucid wave.
White in the sun, beneath the forest-shade,
Full shines the frequent sail, like Vanity,
As she goes onward in her glittering trim,
Amid the glances of life's transient morn,
Calling on all to view her!
That slopes its greensward to the lambent wave,
And shows through softest haze its woods and domes,
With gray St Catherine's creeping to the sky,
Seems like a modest maid, who charms the more
Concealing half her beauties.
To the East,
Proud, yet complacent, on its subject realm,
With masts innumerable thronged, and hulls
Seen indistinct, but formidable, mark
Albion's vast fleet, that, like the impatient storm,
Waits but the word to thunder and flash death
On him who dares approach to violate
The shores and living scenes that smile secure
Beneath its dragon-watch!
Long may they smile!
And long, majestic Albion (while the sound
From East to West, from Albis to the Po,
Of dark contention hurtles), may'st thou rest,
As calm and beautiful this sylvan scene
Looks on the refluent wave that steals below.