The Lake

Original Text: 

Wilfrid Thorley, Fleurs de Lys: A Book of French Poetry Freely Translated into English Verse. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1920. 136-38. Internet Archive.

1Thus ever drawn toward far shores uncharted,
2     Into eternal darkness borne away,
3May we not ever on Time's sea, unthwarted,
4     Cast anchor for a day?
5Lake! Now hardly by a year grown older,
6     And nigh the well-known waves her eyes should greet
7Behold! I sit alone on this same boulder
8     Thou knewest for her seat.
9Thus didst thou murmur in thy rocky haven,
10     Thus didst thou shatter on its stony breast;
11Thus fell the wind-flung foam on sands engraven
12     Where her dear feet had prest.
13One eve -- rememberest thou? -- in silence drifting,
14     Twixt deep and sky no sound had echo save
15Afar the rowers dipping oars and lifting
16     Over thy waters suave.
17When all at once a voice that made earth wonder
18     From the charmed shore drove all the echoes wide,
19And rapt the wave, not fain as I nor fonder,
20     And with sweet words did chide:
21"Stay thou thy flight, O Time! and happy hours
22     Trail by with laggard feet!
23Let all the savour of your delight be ours
24     Of all our days most sweet!
25"Too many grieving souls to thee are praying;
26     Nay, leave not these immune;
27Bear off with thee their sorrows undelaying;
28     Leave happy souls their boon.
29Nay, but in vain I ask one gracious hour;
30     Time flies and will not hark.
31I bid the night abide and dawn doth shower
32     His splendour down the dark.
33"Ah! let us love, my Love, for Time is heartless,
34     Be happy while you may!
35Man hath no Heaven and Time's coast is chartless.
36     He speeds; we pass away!"
37Churl Time, and can it be sweet moments cherished,
38     Wherein love fills our lives with teeming bliss,
39Speed far away and be as swiftly perished
40     As days when sorrow is?
41Nay! Ere we go may we not leave sure traces?
42     Nay! Passed for ever? Beyond all reprieve?
43What Time bestows on us, what Time effaces
44     He nevermore shall give?
45O! everlasting night, deep pit unsounded.
46     What dost thou with engulphéd days untold?
47Speak! Wilt thou yield us back the bliss unbounded
48     Once ravished from our hold?
49O! lake, mute rocks, caves, leafy woodland shading,
50     You whom Time spares or clothes with newer sheen,
51Keep of this night, fair Nature, keep unfading
52     The memory ever green!
53In all thy calms and all thy tempests blending,
54     Fair lake, and in thy forelands' smiling fronts,
55In thy dark pines and thy wild cliffs impending
56     Over thy crystal fonts,
57In the winds passing, with a trembling lightness,
58     Heard in the echoes that thy shores throw far,
59Seen in the beams that fall with sheeny whiteness
60     Wave-borne from the clear star!
61Let moaning breezes thro' the rushes gliding,
62     All perfume stirring thy sweet air above,
63All seen or heard or breathéd bear this tiding,
64     "Hereby they once did love!"
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: