Ye distant spires, ye antique towers,
That crown the watery glade,
Where grateful Science still adores
Her Henry’s holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor’s heights th’ expanse below
Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
His silver-winding way.
My heart was light and whole aboard –
As I sculled swift by Harleyford
The rain began to patter –
But when I saw in Hurley Lock
That Naiad in the gingham frock,
‘Twas quite another matter !
The banks are soft with mud and slosh,
And shiny is each mackintosh,
Each hat and coat well soaken:
My spirits droop, and as I scan
That beauty in a trim randan,
I fear my heart is broken !
She hath a graceful little head,
Her lips are ripe and round and red,
Her teeth are short and pearly;
And on a rosy sun-kissed cheek
Her dimples play at hide-and-seek,
Within the lock at Hurley !
I strive to make a mental note,
The while she lounges in her boat
Beneath the big umbrella.
I wonder if she’s Gwendoline,
Or Gillian or Geraldine,
Or Sylvia, or Stella?
Is she engaged to Stroke or Bow?
I would they could assure me now
She loves to flirt with others !
Will stalwart Sculls e’er claim her hand?
How gladly would I understand
Her crew are naught but brothers !
Her hat with lilies is bedight
Her voice is low, her laugh is light,
Her figure slight and girly.
How cheerfully I’d take a trip,
With such a Pilot for my ship,
And sail away from Hurley !
I wonder if her heart is true?
I know her eyes are peerless blue,
Long lashes downward sweeping;
A snow-white ruff around her throat,
Beneath her pouting petticoat
A little foot out-peeping.
O, is she wooed and is she won,
Or is she very fond of fun?
I make a thousand guesses !
A sweet young face, so full of hope,
A dainty hand on tiller-rope,
And raindrops in her tresses.
Three tiny rosebuds lightly rest
Within the haven of her breast –
Her locks are short and curly.
The sun is gone ! Down comes the rain !
I leave my heart cleft well in twain
Within the Lock at Hurley !
- Thames Illuminations 2012 – Whistler (James Abbot McNeill) would be delighted! (dianajhale.wordpress.com)
- On the Thames, a Small Rowing Race with a Long History (nytimes.com)
- REVIEW: Royal River- Power, Pageantry and the Thames (exhibitionologist.wordpress.com)