Barnham Water

BARNHAM WATER

Fresh from the Hall of Bounty sprung, [1] 
With glowing heart and ardent eye,
With song and rhyme upon my tongue,
And fairy visions dancing by,
The mid-day sun in all his pow’r5
The backward valley painted gay;
Mine was a road without a flower,
Where one small streamlet cross’d the way.
What was it rous’d my soul to love?
What made the simple brook so dear?10
It glided like the weary dove,
And never brook seem’d half so clear.
Cool pass’d the current o’er my feet,
Its shelving brink for rest was made,
But every charm was incomplete,15
For Barnham Water wants a shade.
There, faint beneath the fervid sun,
I gaz’d in ruminating mood;
For who can see the current run
And snatch no feast of mental food?20
‘Keep pure thy soul,’ it seem’d to say,
‘Keep that fair path by wisdom trod,
That thou may’st hope to wind thy way,
To fame worth boasting, and to God.’
Long and delightful was the dream,25
A waking dream that Fancy yields,
Till with regret I left the stream,
And plung’d across the barren fields;
To where of old rich abbeys smil’d
In all the pomp of gothic taste,30
By fond tradition proudly styl’d
The mighty ‘City in the East.’ [2] 
Near, on a slope of burning sand,
The shepherd boys had met to play,
To hold the plains at their command,35
And mark the trav’ller’s leafless way.
The trav’ller with a cheerful look
Would every pining thought forbear,
If boughs but shelter’d Barnham brook
He’d stop and leave his blessing there.40
The Danish mounds [3]  of partial green,
Still, as each mouldering tower decays,
Far o’er the bleak unwooded scene
Proclaim their wond’rous length of days.
My burning feet, my aching sight,45
Demanded rest,—why did I weep?
The moon arose, and such a night!
Good Heav’n! it was a sin to sleep.
All rushing came thy hallow’d sighs,
Sweet Melancholy, from my breast;50
‘’Tis here that eastern greatness lies,
That Might, Renown, and Wisdom rest!
Here funeral rites the priesthood gave
To chiefs who sway’d prodigious powers,
The Bigods and the Mowbrays brave,55
From Framlingham’s imperial towers.’ [4] 
Full of the mighty deeds of yore,
I bade good night the trembling beam;
Fancy e’en heard the battle’s roar,
Of what but slaughter could I dream?60
Bless’d be that night, that trembling beam,
Peaceful excursions Fancy made;
All night I heard the bubbling stream,
Yet, Barnham Water wants a shade.
Whatever hurts my country’s fame,65
When wits and mountaineers deride,
To me grows serious, for I name
My native plains and streams with pride.
No mountain charms have I to sing,
No loftier minstrel’s rights invade;70
From trifles oft my raptures spring;
—Sweet Barnham Water wants a shade.

Notes

[1] All editions include a note by Bloomfield:] On a sultry afternoon, late in the summer of 1802, Euston-Hall lay in my way to Thetford, which place I did not reach until the evening, on a visit to my sister: the lines lose much of their interest except they could be read on the spot, or at least at a corresponding season of the year. BACK

[2] [Thetford, Norfolk, an ancient town on the Icknield Way, capital of Saxon East Anglia, occupied by the Danes in 865, burnt by Sweyn in 1004, a bishopric from 1070 to 1094. It boasted at one time eight monasteries, including a famous Cluniac priory founded by Roger Bigod (d. 1107) in 1104. See Brayley, Views in Suffolk, pp. 31–3.] BACK

[3] [Earthworks raised by the invading Danes in 865. They are illustrated in Brayley, Views in Suffolk.] BACK

[4] [Framlingham Castle, Suffolk, now a ruin, was given to Roger Bigod (see note to l. 32), and became the principal stronghold of his descendants the Bigods, Mowbrays and Howards, earls and dukes of Norfolk.] BACK

Exports

JSON What's this?
As you're browsing RC, you might see small buttons scattered on various pages. These buttons let you download that page's content in a ready-to-use data file! Learn more on our RC Data page.