Verse > Anthologies > Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. > The Little Book of Modern Verse
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Jessie B. Rittenhouse, ed. (1869–1948).  The Little Book of Modern Verse.  1917.
 
19. Water Fantasy
 
By Fannie Stearns Davis
 
 
O BROWN brook, O blithe brook, what will you say to me
If I take off my heavy shoon and wade you childishly?
 
      O take them off, and come to me.
      You shall not fall. Step merrily!
 
But, cool brook, but, quick brook, and what if I should float        5
White-bodied in your pleasant pool, your bubbles at my throat?
 
      If you are but a mortal maid,
      Then I shall make you half afraid.
      The water shall be dim and deep,
      And silver fish shall lunge and leap        10
      About you, coward mortal thing.
      But if you come desiring
      To win once more your naiadhood,
      How you shall laugh and find me good—
      My golden surfaces, my glooms,        15
      My secret grottoes’ dripping rooms,
      My depths of warm wet emerald,
      My mosses floating fold on fold!
      And where I take the rocky leap
      Like wild white water shall you sweep;        20
      Like wild white water shall you cry,
      Trembling and turning to the sky,
      While all the thousand-fringèd trees
      Glimmer and glisten through the breeze.
      I bid you come! Too long, too long,        25
      You have forgot my undersong.
      And this perchance you never knew:
      E’en I, the brook, have need of you.
      My naiads faded long ago,—
      My little nymphs, that to and fro        30
      Within my waters sunnily
      Made small white flames of tinkling glee.
      I have been lonesome, lonesome; yea,
      E’en I, the brook, until this day.
      Cast off your shoon; ah, come to me,        35
      And I will love you lingeringly!
 
O wild brook, O wise brook, I cannot come, alas!
I am but mortal as the leaves that flicker, float, and pass.
My body is not used to you; my breath is fluttering sore;
You clasp me round too icily. Ah, let me go once more!        40
Would God I were a naiad-thing whereon Pan’s music blew;
But woe is me! you pagan brook, I cannot stay with you!
 

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