Karl-Pierre Daubigny, A Stroll along the River Bank, n.d.
“There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky.”
Let me be like the river that pours through
limestone-walled bluffs, iron-stained,
rushing past rock: let me empty out into
green valleys, soften, spread, roaring
only an echo now, paths meandering,
letting go all that was carried for headlong
miles, become the rich alluvial muck
of backwater, sloughs where the great blue
heron hunts, motionless, and the Parula
warbler flits, cattail banks where the blackbirds
nest, sandspits noisy with circling gulls,
mudflats tracked by the egrets, idling
before the Mississippi gathers me in.
Robin Chapman, from One Hundred White Pelicans (Tebot Bach, 2013)
Oliver Akers Douglas, Bend in the Nar, 2013
20×24, oil on aluminium
The river flows and my eyes are fading
The morning disappears into itself
I am an apparition of daylight
the morning and I are the same age
the river flows on without returning
this is the one river of night and day
sometimes morning comes back to the river
as an old bird that recognizes it
the old wings bore it through the life of a bird
on and one into their own time
out of the ancient self and the darkness
the bird returns alone to its river
as it was alone when it had seen
those same clouds once in the time before
that time alone as a child is alone
in a single moment in an empty house
alone as a cloud is alone in its moment
as the silence was alone in the house
and the river was silent in its flowing
the bird still sees them in the only time
and it still cannot see where it came from
W. S. Merwin, from The American Poetry Review (vol. 43, no. 4, July/August 2014)
Played 321 times
"Flows Like A River"
Closer Than The Blood LP
Georgia O’Keeffe, Blue, Black, and Grey, 1960
“I say: I am the river
and you are its blue, burning current.”
Sometimes I am bewildered
By all this foolish energy
Miles from people.
I envy those
Who live upriver
At the quiet source.
Here we are forever
The incoming roar
Of life and the tides
That carry death out
Dermot Healy, from “Prayer,” The Ballyconnell Colours (Gallery Press, 1992)
The silent, snaking Deschutes.
[…] You sit on this rock
on a day that will shrug like water over a parched hill.
Elk graze behind a barbed-wire stile.
Almonds linger in their velvet
under mackerel skies smoking up
a dismantled bed. Lichen steep their tang.
Arrowed herons. Ripple of otter.
River fuses with afternoon,
is lost, is found.
Kristen Berger, “You Are Here,” from Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environment (March 21, 2014)
“Who can long watch the ceaseless lapping of a river’s current without conceiving a desire to set himself adrift?”
" … I mostly fish rivers these days. In so doing, movement becomes stasis, flux is the constant, and everything flows around, through, and beyond me, escaping ungrasped, unnamed, and unscathed. The river’s clean escape does not prevent belief in its reality. On the contrary, there is nothing I love more than the feel of a wholeness sliding toward, around, and past me while I stand like an idiot savant in its midst, focusing on tiny, idiot-savantic bits of what is so beautiful to me, and so close, yet so wondrously ungraspable.”
David James Duncan, from My Story as Told by Water: Confessions, Druidic Rants, Reflections, Bird-Watchings, Fish-Stalkings, Visions, Songs and Prayers Reflecting Light, from Living Rivers, in the Age of the Industrial Dark (Sierra Club, 2001)
Savrasov Alexey Kondratievich, By the Evening, 1886
Played 69 times
"Watching the River Flow"
Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II
"Now when I had mastered the language of this water and had come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry had gone out of the majestic river! I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating, black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as an opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the sombre shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun. There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it, every passing moment, with new marvels of coloring.
I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home. But as I have said, a day came when I began to cease from noting the glories and the charms which the moon and the sun and the twilight wrought upon the river’s face; another day came when I ceased altogether to note them. Then, if that sunset scene had been repeated, I should have looked upon it without rapture, and should have commented upon it, inwardly, in this fashion: ‘This sun means that we are going to have wind tomorrow; that floating log means that the river is rising, small thanks to it; that slanting mark on the water refers to a bluff reef which is going to kill somebody’s steamboat one of these nights, if it keeps on stretching out like that; those tumbling boils show a dissolving bar and a changing channel there; the lines and circles in the slick water over yonder are a warning that that troublesome place is shoaling up dangerously; that silver streak in the shadow of the forest is the break from a new snag, and he has located himself in the very best place he could have found to fish for steamboats; that tall dead tree, with a single living branch, is not going to last long, and then how is a body ever going to get through this blind place at night without the friendly old landmark?’
No, the romance and the beauty were all gone from the river. All the value any feature of it had for me now was the amount of usefulness it could furnish toward compassing the safe piloting of a steamboat.”
Mark Twain, from “Two Ways of Seeing a River,” in Life on the Mississippi (James R. Osgood & Co., 1883)