Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Descriptive Poems: III. Places
The Cataract of Lodore
Robert Southey (1774–1843)
 
Described in “Rhymes for the Nursery”

        “HOW does the water
        Come down at Lodore!”
        My little boy asked me
        Thus, once on a time;
      And moreover he tasked me        5
        To tell him in rhyme.
          Anon at the word,
    There first came one daughter,
        And then came another,
          To second and third        10
      The request of their brother,
      And to hear how the water
        Comes down at Lodore,
        With its rush and its roar,
          As many a time        15
        They had seen it before.
        So I told them in rhyme,
      For of rhymes I had store;
      And ’t was in my vocation
          For their recreation        20
        That so I should sing;
      Because I was Laureate
        To them and the King.
 
      From its sources which well
        In the tarn on the fell;        25
          From its fountains
          In the mountains,
        Its rills and its gills;
    Through moss and through brake,
        It runs and it creeps        30
      For a while, till it sleeps
        In its own little lake.
      And thence at departing,
      Awakening and starting,
    It runs through the reeds,        35
        And away it proceeds,
    Through meadow and glade,
        In sun and in shade,
    And through the wood-shelter,
      Among crags in its flurry,        40
        Helter-skelter,
        Hurry-skurry.
      Here it comes sparkling,
    And there it lies darkling;
    Now smoking and frothing        45
      Its tumult and wrath in,
        Till, in this rapid race
          On which it is bent,
          It reaches the place
        Of its steep descent.        50
 
        The cataract strong
        Then plunges along,
        Striking and raging
        As if a war waging
    Its caverns and rocks among;        55
            Rising and leaping,
          Sinking and creeping,
        Swelling and sweeping,
      Showering and springing,
      Flying and flinging,        60
      Writhing and ringing,
      Eddying and whisking,
      Spouting and frisking,
      Turning and twisting,
        Around and around        65
      With endless rebound:
        Smiting and fighting,
        A sight to delight in;
      Confounding, astounding,
Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.        70
 
      Collecting, projecting,
      Receding and speeding,
      And shocking and rocking,
      And darting and parting,
      And threading and spreading,        75
      And whizzing and hissing,
      And dripping and skipping,
      And hitting and spitting,
      And shining and twining,
      And rattling and battling,        80
      And shaking and quaking,
      And pouring and roaring,
      And waving and raving,
      And tossing and crossing,
      And flowing and going,        85
      And running and stunning,
      And foaming and roaming,
      And dinning and spinning,
      And dropping and hopping,
      And working and jerking,        90
      And guggling and struggling,
      And heaving and cleaving,
      And moaning and groaning;
 
      And glittering and frittering,
      And gathering and feathering,        95
      And whitening and brightening,
      And quivering and shivering,
      And hurrying and skurrying,
      And thundering and floundering;
 
  Dividing and gliding and sliding,        100
  And falling and brawling and sprawling,
  And driving and riving and striving,
  And sprinkling and twinkling and winkling,
  And sounding and bounding and rounding,
  And bubbling and troubling and doubling,        105
  And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,
  And clattering and battering and shattering;
Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,
Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,
Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,        110
Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling,
And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,
And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,
And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,
And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,        115
And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping,
And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;
And so never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending
All at once and all o’er, with a mighty uproar,—        120
And this way the water comes down at Lodore.
 
 
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