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Poem by Charles Hamilton Sorley

The River

He watched the river running black
	Beneath the blacker sky;
It did not pause upon its track
	Of silent instancy;
It did not hasten, nor was slack,
	But still went gliding by.

It was so black. There was no wind
	Its patience to defy.
It was not that the man had sinned,
	Or that he wished to die.
Only the wide and silent tide
	Went slowly sweeping by.

The mass of blackness moving down
	Filled full of dreams the eye;
The lights of all the lighted town
	Upon its breast did lie;
The tall black trees were upside down
	In the river phantasy.

He had an envy for its black
He felt impatiently the lack
	Of that great law whereby
The river never travels back
	But still goes gliding by;

But still goes gliding by, nor clings
	To passing things that die,
Nor shows the secrets that it brings
	From its strange source on high.
And he felt "We are two living things
	And the weaker one is I."

He saw the town, that living stack
	Piled up against the sky.
He saw the river running black
	On, on and on: O, why
Could he not move along his track
	With such consistency?

He had a yearning for the strength
	That comes of unity:
The union of one soul at length
	With its twin-soul to lie:
To be a part of one great strength
	That moves and cannot die.

 * * * * * *

He watched the river running black
	Beneath the blacker sky.
He pulled his coat about his back,
	He did not strive nor cry.
He put his foot upon the track
	That still went gliding by.

The thing that never travels back
	Received him silently.
And there was left no shred, no wrack
	To show the reason why:
Only the river running black
	Beneath the blacker sky. 

February 1913

Charles Hamilton Sorley

Charles Hamilton Sorley's other poems:
  1. East Kennet Church at Evening
  2. Marlborough
  3. Rooks (There is such cry in all these birds)
  4. To Poets
  5. In Memoriam S. C. W., V.C.

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Coventry Patmore The River ("It is a venerable place")
  • Thomas Aird The River ("Infant of the weeping hills")
  • William Watson The River ("As drones a bee with sultry hum")
  • Rose Cooke The River ("The river flows and flows away")
  • Sara Teasdale The River ("I came from the sunny valleys")
  • Ella Wilcox The River ("I am a river flowing from GodТs sea")

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