James Kenneth Stephen (1859-1892)
Steam-launches on the Thames
Henley, June 7, 1891.
1Shall we, to whom the stream by right belongs,
2Who travel silent, save, perchance, for songs;
3Whose track's a ripple,--leaves the Thames a lake,
4Nor frights the swan--scarce makes the rushes shake;
5Who harmonize, exemplify, complete
6And vivify a scene already sweet:
7Who travel careless on, from lock to lock,
8Oblivious that the world contains a clock,
9With pace commensurate to our desires,
10Propelled by other force than Stygian fire's;
11Shall we be driven hence to leave a place
12For these, who bring upon our stream disgrace:
13The rush, the roar, the stench, the smoke, the steam,
14The nightmare striking through our heavenly dream;
15The scream as shrill and hateful to the ear
16As when a peacock vents his rage and fear;
17Which churn to fury all a glassy reach,
18And heave rude breakers on a pebbly beach:
19Which half o'erwhelm with waves our frailer craft,
20While graceless shop-boys chuckle fore and aft:
21Foul water-toadstools, noisome filth-stained shapes,
22Fit only to be manned by dogs and apes:
23Blots upon nature: scars that mar her smile:
24Obscene, obtrusive, execrable, vile?
1] The Thames flows from the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire eastwards through London into the North Sea.
10] Stygian: hellish, of the river Styx.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: James Kenneth Stephen, Lapsus Calami, new edn. (Cambridge: Macmillan and Bowes, 1891), p. 77. PR 5473 S4L3 1891 cop. 2 Robarts Library.
First publication date:
Publication date note: Pall Mall Gazette June 1891
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14
Other poems by James Kenneth Stephen