Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LINES ON REVISITING A SCOTTISH RIVER, by THOMAS CAMPBELL

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

LINES ON REVISITING A SCOTTISH RIVER, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: And call they this improvement? - to have changed
Last Line: My wallace's own stream, and once romantic clyde!
Subject(s): Clyde River, Scotland; Glasgow, Scotland

AND call they this Improvement? -- to have changed,
My native Clyde, thy once romantic shore,
Where Nature's face is banished and estranged,
And Heaven reflected in thy wave no more;
Whose banks, that sweetened May-day's breath before,
Lie sere and leafless now in summer's beam,
With sooty exhalations covered o'er;
And for the dasied greensward, down thy stream
Unsightly brick-lanes smoke, and clanking engines gleam!

Speak not to me of swarms the scene sustains;
One heart free tasting Nature's breath and bloom
Is worth a thousand slaves to Mammon's gains.
But whither goes that wealth, and gladdening whom?
See, left but life enough and breathing-room
The hunger and the hope of life to feel,
Yon pale Mechanic bending o'er his loom,
And Childhood's self as at Ixion's wheel,
From morn till midnight tasked to earn its little meal.

Is this Improvement? -- where the human breed
Degenerate as they swarm and overflow,
Till Toil grows cheaper than the trodden weed,
And man competes with man, like foe with foe,
Till Death, that thins them, scarce seems public wo!
Improvement! -- smiles it in the poor man's eyes,
Or blooms it on the cheek of Labor? -- No --
To gorge a few with Trade's precarious prize,
We banish rural life, and breathe unwholesome skies.

Nor call that evil slight; God has not given
This passion to the heart of man in vain,
For Earth's green face, the untainted air of Heaven,
And all the bliss of Nature's rustic reign.
For not alone our frame imbibes a stain
From foetid skies; the spirit's healthy pride
Fades in their gloom. -- And therefore I complain,
That thou no more through pastoral scenes shouldst glide,
My Wallace's own stream, and once romantic Clyde!

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