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Poem by Menella Bute Smedley


A Nursery Rhyme


I found a little river in the sweet summer tide,
Lily, O Lily!
I wish that I were for ever by its side;
Cool is the running water.
All its rocks were marble, shining with dew,
Lily, O Lily!

On each rock of marble a palace-flower grew;
Cool is the running water.
Red were the palace-flowers, cups of red light;
Lily, O Lily!
White were the marble rocks, snow-clouds so white;
Cool is the running water.
In all the red cups butterflies sate,
Lily, O Lily!
Clad in new rainbows, and keeping their state;
Cool is the running water.

These rainbow butterflies all sang like birds,
Lily, O Lily!
I know the tune, but I cannot tell the words;
Cool is the running water.
I felt the song in my heart like a fear,
Lily, O Lily!
I ran away because I was so near;
Cool is the running water.
If I had gone where the butterflies drew,
Lily, O Lily!
I should be there now with my feet in the dew;
Cool is the running water.

I should be there now, with my face in the light,
Lily, O Lily!
With a king-butterfly all day and night;
Cool is the running water.
If I could tell what the butterflies said,
Lily, O Lily!
I should find my little river in its white bed;
Cool is the running water.
Comrades, search with me, run to and fro,
Lily, O Lily!
Tell if you find where the palace-flowers grow;
Cool is the running water.

I know they are growing there, each like a star,
Lily, O Lily!
Any one may find them, if he seeks far;
Cool is the running water.
Tell if you hear any faint notes and sweet,
Lily, O Lily!
Like living music that flows to your feet;
Cool is the running water.
I know they are singing there, just the same song,
Lily, O Lily!
Any one may hear them if he listens long;
Cool is the running water.

O! if they call you, go like the wind,
Lily, O Lily!
Take me beside you, leave me not behind;
Cool is the running water.
Take me beside you, over hill and plain,
Lily, O Lily!
O! my little river that I find not again;
Cool is the running water.
O! my little river, if I were on your shore,
Lily, O Lily!
I should live there, and not die, but sing evermore,
Cool is the running water.



Menella Bute Smedley


Menella Bute Smedley's other poems:
  1. The Singing Lesson
  2. The Rooks' Petition
  3. The Vow of Cortes
  4. The Sick Child
  5. The English Merchant and the Saracen Lady


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