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Anna Jane Vardill

The Canal and the Brook

The proud Canal, serene and deep,
Beneath it saw the streamlet creep—
“Haste, babbler! haste thee on!” it cried,
“Thou emblem of man’s shallow pride!
Go, steal thy winding way along,
With gilded pebbles make thy song,
Refresh thy sun-burn’d shepherd’s flock,
Or tinkle thro’ the thirsty rock;
Feed if thou canst the humble flow’r,
Companion of thy little hour,
Then slumber in forgotten earth,
Hid by the clay that gave thee birth.”
Submissive paus’d the tuneful Brook.
Then whisper’d thus its meek rebuke—
“Unseen I wind my quiet way,
Unheard ’midst honied wild-flow’rs play;
My music soothes the lonely ear,
My gifts the cottage-banquet cheer:
But though in dim inglorious gloom
I wander now, the hour shall come,
When thro’ a channel broad and bright
My peaceful stream shall burst to light,
And mingle with the boundless sea
Of Life and Joy’s Eternity!—
Such is my doom—and what is thine,
Colossal work of Art divine!
Condemn’d the gaudy freights to bear
Of shallow pomp and sordid care,
While iron bondage quells thy force,
And slaves like thee direct thy course!
Go, share the doom of feeble man,
Whose power thy mimic reign began—
The traveller shall return, and see
An emblem of his pride in thee:
Thy giant arches shall decay,
Thy borrow’d flood shall pass away,
While to free Ocean’s breast is given
The semblance and the light of Heaven!


The European Magazine, Vol. 74, July 1818, p. 62