The Old Water-mill
By Eliza Cook
And is this the old mill-stream that ten years ago
Was so fast in its current, so pure in its flow;
Whose musical waters would ripple and shine
With the glory and dash of a miniature Rhine?
Can this be its bed! I remember it well
When it sparkled like silver through meadow and dell;
When the pet lamb reposed on its emerald side,
And the minnow and perch darted swift through its tide.
And here was the miller's house, peaceful abode!
Where the flower-twined porch drew all eyes from the road;
Where roses and jasmine embowered a door
That never was closed to the wayworn or poor:
Where the miller, God bless him! oft gave us "a dance,"
And led off the ball with his soul in his glance;
Who, forgetting grey hairs, was as loud in his mirth
As the veriest youngsters that circled his hearth.
Blind Ralph was the only musician we had,
But his tunes - oh such tunes - would make any heart glad!
"The Roast Beef of Old England," and "Green grow the Rushes,"
Woke our eyes' brightest beams and our cheeks' warmest flushes.
No lustre resplendent its brilliancy shed,
But the wood fire blazed high, and the board was well spread;
Our seats were undamasked, our partners were rough,
Yet yet we were happy, and that was enough!
And here was the mill where we idled away
Our holiday hours on a clear summer day;
Where Roger, the miller's boy, loll'd on a sack,
And chorus'd his song to the merry click clack.
But lo! what rude sacrilege here hath been done!
The streamlet no longer purls on in the sun;
Its course has been turn'd, and the desolate edge
Is now mournfully covered with duck-weed and sedge.
The mill is in ruins. No welcoming sound
In the mastiff's gruff bark and the wheels dashing round;
The house too, untenanted - left to decay -
And the miller, long dead: all I loved passed away.
This play-place of childhood was graved on my heart
In rare Paradise colours that now must depart;
The old water-mill's gone, the fair vision is fled,
And I weep o'er its wreck as I do for the dead.