Sir John Denham

Cooper's Hill (excerpts)

Sir John Denham FRS (1614 or 1615 – 19 March 1669) was an Anglo-Irish poet and courtier. He served as Surveyor of the King's Works and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

  My eye, descending from the hill, surveys
  Where Thames amongst the wanton valleys strays;
  Thames, the most lov'd of all the Ocean's sons
  By his old sire, to his embraces runs,
  Hasting to pay his tribute to the sea,
  Like mortal life to meet eternity.
  Though with those streams he no resemblance hold
  Whose foam is amber, and their gravel gold,
  His genuine and less guilty wealth t' explore,
  Search not his bottom, but survey his shore,
  O'er which he kindly spreads his spacious wing,
  And hatches plenty for th' ensuing spring;
  Nor then destroys it with too fond a stay,
  Like mothers which their infants overlay;
  Nor, with a sudden and impetuous wave,
  Like profuse kings, resumes the wealth he gave.
  No unexpected inundations spoil
  The mower's hopes, nor mock the ploughman's toil,
  But godlike his unwearied bounty flows,
  First loves to do, then loves the good he does;
  Nor are his blessings to his banks confin'd,
  But free and common as the sea or wind;
  When he to boast or to disperse his stores,
  Full of the tributes of his grateful shores,
  Visits the world, and in his flying towers,
  Brings home to us, and makes both Indies ours;
  Finds wealth where 'tis, bestows it where it wants,
  Cities in deserts, woods in cities plants;
  So that to us no thing, no place is strange,
  While his fair bosom is the world's exchange.
  O could I flow like thee, and make thy stream
  My great example, as it is my theme!
  Though deep, yet clear, though gentle, yet not dull;
  Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.