The Refusal of Charon

written by

« Reload image

Why look the distant mountains  
 So gloomy and so drear?  
Are rain clouds passing o’er them,  
 Or is the tempest near?  
No shadow of the tempest  
 Is there, nor wind nor rain—  
’Tis Charon that is passing by,  
 With all his gloomy train.  

The young men march before him,  
 In all their strength and pride;  
The tender little infants,  
 They totter by his side;  
The old men walk behind him,  
 And earnestly they pray—  
Both old and young imploring him  
 To grant some brief delay.  

‘O Charon! halt, we pray thee,  
 Beside some little town,  
Or near some sparkling fountain,  
 Where the waters wimple down!  
The old will drink and be refreshed,  
 The young the disc will fling,  
And the tender little children  
 Pluck flowers beside the spring.’  

‘I will not stay my journey,  
 Nor halt by any town,  
Near any sparkling fountain,  
 Where the waters wimple down:  
The mothers coming to the well  
 Would know the babes they bore,  
The wives would clasp their husbands,  
 Nor could I part them more.’

© William Edmondstoune Aytoun