I lay close down beside the river,
My bow well strung, well filled my quiver.
The god that dwells among the reeds
Sang sweetly from their tangled bredes.
The soft-tongued water murmured low,
Swinging the flag leaves to and fro.
Beyond the river, fold on fold,
The hills gleamed through a film of gold.
The feathery osiers waved and shone
Like silver thread in tangles blown.
A bird, fire-winged, with ruby throat,
Down the slow, sleepy wind did float,
And drift and flit and stray along,
A very focal flame of song.
A white sand isle midmost the stream
Lay sleeping by it shoals of bream.
In lilied pools, alert and calm,
Great bass through lucent circles swarm;
A farther by a rushy brink
A shadowy fawn stole to drink,
Where tall thin birds unbalanced stood
In sandy shallows of the flood.
And what did I beside the river
With bow well strong and well-filled quiver?
I lay quite still, with half-closed eyes,
Lapped in a dream of paradise,
Until I heard the bow-cord ring,
And from the reeds an arrow sing.
How quickly brother's merry shout
Put my sweet summer dream to rout!
I knew not what had been his luck,
If well or ill his shaft had struck;
But up I sprang, my bow half-drawn,
With keen desire to slay the fawn.
Where was it, then? Gone like my dream!
I only heard the fish-hawk scream;
And the strong, striped bass leap up
Beside the lily's floating cup.
I only felt the cool wind go
Across my face with steady flow;
I only saw those thin birds stand
Unbalanced on the river sand,
Low peering at some dappled thing
In the green rushes quivering.