Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Spain, &c.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV.  1876–79.
Spain: Tagus (Tajo), the River
The Flood of the Tagus
Luis de Góngora (1561–1627)
Translated by Edward Churton

A WORD with thee, grand Tagus;—
  Say why, in wrath and pride,
Thy stream rolls down, to plague us,
  This deluge wild and wide?
What moves thy spleen at princes?        5
  Thy work is with the clown,
Watering his groves of quinces
  By old Toledo town.
Thy boast is in the wonder
  Of Rome’s imperial sway,        10
Where flow thy deep waves under
  That high o’erarching way,
Where might in age reposes,
  By Spaniards noised as far
As trumpet-sounds of noses        15
  In winter’s hoarse catarrh.
Long live that strength and beauty,
  By poets vaunted higher
Than chimes in Sunday duty
  Hung out from belfry spire.        20
For thee the vocal Muses
  More hue and cry have made
Than market-beadle uses
  For cattle stolen or strayed.
By Nature thou art gifted,        25
  They say, with sands of gold:
But let those sands be sifted,
  And truth may then be told.
They call thee sacred river:
  I grant the reason why,        30
Because thy course is ever
  In Spain’s Archbishop’s eye.
But from hard Cuenca’s mountain
  Thy rills first rise to day,
From dribbling stony fountain        35
  Forth trickling as they may.
And year by year, in guerdon
  Of thy young sins, a load
Of pines, a growing burden,
  Weighs down thy shoulders broad.        40
Remembering this, be modest;
  For ’t is a monstrous thing,
When wastefully thou floodest
  The gardens of Spain’s King.
So may men’s eyes with wonder        45
  Gaze, where thy waters fall
With arrowy speed, whose thunder
  Shakes rock and castle wall;
Or where in peace delaying
  They spread like lakes at rest,        50
And snow-white swans are playing
  Upon thy tranquil breast;
Or where in highland forest
  The dun deer drink thy spray,
Where thou thy rills outpourest        55
  As wild and free as they.

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