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The Old Mill by the River

by Isaac McLellan

Here in the years when life was bright
With dewy mornings and sunset light,
In the pleasant season of leafy June,
In each idle, holiday afternoon
I lov'd to wander with willow wand—
I lov'd on the river border to stand
And take the trout or the yellow bream
That leap'd, that glanc'd athwart the stream.
With broken window, with hingeless door,
Thro' which the slanting sunbeams pour;
With leaning gable, and settling wall,
O'er which the draperied ivies fall;
With rafter moldy, worm-eaten beam,
O'er which the silken cobwebs stream,
Fast by the river-banks serene
The old forsaken mill is seen.
Its roof shows many a chasm and rent,
Its creaking vane is crack'd and bent,
In and out the swallows fly
Under the eaves their dwellings lie.
The leather-wing'd bats, when day is dim,
Thro' vacant rooms and granaries skim;
Its shingles that ages ago were new,
Splendid with painters' lavish hue,
Are faded now and swing in the gale,
Scarce held by the loosen'd rusty nail;
The clapboards rattle and clank amain
In gusts of the snow-fall and the rain,
For the dust of many a lapsing year
Hath writ its wasteful chronicle here.
The dam o'er which the waters pour
Is settling and crumbling by the shore;
The slippery logs and mossy stone
Yield to the current one by one;
And swift thro' many a rent abyss
The spouting rivulets foam and hiss,
And soon must the crazy fabric decay,
And the torrent sweep uncheck'd away.
The water-wheel so black and vast,
With beam like a battle-vessel's mast
That once would churn with mighty sweep
The boiling waters so dark and deep,
Lies now a wreck in humbled pride,
Trembling with each assault of the tide.
Under the crumbling, blacken'd wheel
The crystal bubbles circle and reel;
Over and under the eddies boil
Round molder'd timber and rotting post;
In many a circling ripple they coil
In sudden plunge, in wild turmoil,
Now seen an instant, then quickly lost.

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