We present this work in honor of the 160th anniversary of the poet’s death.
Written in London in 1811
I saw upon the shady Thames
Unnumber’d ships with riches fraught;
I saw the power the nation claims
Immense, the greatness it has wrought,
And arts that such renown have brought.
But the afflicted mind exhaled
A thousand sighs; again to view
The flowery banks the wish prevail’d,
Where glides the Douro calmly through,
Or Henil’s streams their course pursue.
I saw the proud Court’s ladies forth
Their wealth and grandeur gaily show;
I saw the beauties of the North,
Their bright complexions white as snow,
Commingling with the rose’s glow.
Their eyes appear’d of heavenly blue,
Their tresses of the purest gold;
Their stately forms arose to view,
Beneath the veil’s transparent fold,
As white and lovely to behold.
But what avail the gay brocade,
The city’s silks, and jewels’ pride;
Or charms in rosy smiles array’d,
With brilliant gaiety supplied,
That all to beauty are allied?
When but is seen my country girl,
Clad in her robe of simple white,
Shamed are the needless silk and pearl;
And by her pure and blooming light
Confused hides beauty at the sight.
Where shall I find in icy clime
Her black and beaming eyes of fire?
That whether scornfully the time,
To look, or kindly they desire,
To rob me of my peace conspire?
Where the black hair that may like hers
In hue with ebony compare?
Where the light foot that never stirs,
When bounding o’er the meadows fair,
The lowly flowers that blossom there?
Maids of the Henil! dark ye be;
But ne’er would I exchanged resign
Your charms for all that here I see,
Proud Albion shows, of brows that fine
Ev’n as the polish’d ivory shine.
O, father Douro! gentle stream,
Whose sands a golden store supply,
Deign of my heart the wish supreme
To hear, thy sacred margins by,
That it may be my lot to die!