River

R
Plans for Altering the River by Richard Hugo
Richard Hugo
Those who favor our plan to alter the river
raise your hand. Thank you for your vote.
Last week, you'll recall, l spoke about how water
never complains. How it runs where you tell it,
seemingly at home, flooding grain or pinched
by geometric banks like those in this graphic
depiction of our plan. We ask for power:
a river boils or falls to tum our turbines.
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When the Red Goose Wakes by Marilyn Dorf
Marilyn Dorf
The sky a pure river of dawn
and the red goose wakes, the
breeze weaving, interweaving
leaves newly turned.
In the valley a song,
with no one to sing it,
some voice of the past
or the future. The red goose
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Suicide's Note by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes
The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.
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Any by George Bowering
George Bowering
Fresh out of the icebox, this brain looks
the wrong way from time to time, and misses
the cat stepping by, Gerry on the screen
laboring to tell the nuances his pink matter
almost notices, he’s not my brother, not really
my close friend, just my necessary neighbor
on a bicycle going by like a whistle from
the lips of someone I trust. He has a peculiar
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The River by Jim Harrison
Jim Harrison
Yes, we'll gather by the river,
the beautiful, the beautiful river.
They say it runs by the throne of God.
This is where God invented fish.
Wherever, but then God's throne is as wide
as the universe. If you're attentive you'll
see the throne's borders in the stars. We're on this side
and when you get to the other side we don't know
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A Child's Drawing, 1941 by Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine
A woman ladder leans
with her two-year-old boy in her arms.
Her arms & legs & hands & feet
are thin as crayons.

The man ladder
is holding his glass of bourbon,
he is coming out of the child’s drawing
in his old open pajamas—
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Coming to Sumer by A. R. Ammons
A. R. Ammons
Coming to Sumer and the tamarisks on the river
I Ezra with unsettling love
rifled the mud and wattle huts
for recent mournings
with gold leaves
and lapis lazuli beads
in the neat braids loosening from the skull
Looking through the wattles to the sun
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To His Love by Ivor Gurney
Ivor Gurney
He's gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We'll walk no more on Cotswold
Where the sheep feed
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Lament of the Silent Sisters by Kofi Awoonor
Kofi Awoonor
For Chris Okigbo, the well-known poet, killed in 1967 in the Nigerian civil war. That night he came home, he came unto me
at the cold hour of the night
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Wilderness by Lorine Niedecker
Lorine Niedecker
You are the man
You are my other country
and I find it hard going

You are the prickly pear
You are the sudden violent storm

the torrent to raise the river
to float the wounded doe
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Desdichada by Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
I.

For that you never acknowledged me, I acknowledge
the spring’s yellow detail, the every drop of rain,
the anonymous unacknowledged men and women.
The shine as it glitters in our child’s wild eyes,
one o’clock at night. This river, this city,
the years of the shadow on the delicate skin
of my hand, moving in time.
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For Jane by Stephen Stepanchev
Stephen Stepanchev
I know that rarity precedes extinction,
Like that of the purple orchid in my garden,
Whose sudden disappearance rattled me.

Jane, in her way, is also beautiful.
And therefore near extinction, I suppose.
She is certainly rare and fragile of  bone.

She insists she is dying, day by dubious day,
And spends her evenings looking at photographs
Of  her mother, who never believed in love.

Rare Jane, I worship you. But I can’t deny
You access to the endless
With its river of cold stars.
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The Vacation by Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry
Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation. He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictured it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
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East River’s Charm by Samuel Greenberg
Samuel Greenberg
Is this the river East I heard?—
Where the ferries, tugs and sailboats stirred
And the reaching wharves from the inner land
Ourstretched, like the harmless receiving hand—

And the silvery tinge that sparkles aloud
Like the brilliant white demons, which a tide has towed
From the rays of the morning sun
Which it doth ceaselessly shine upon.

But look at the depth of the drippling tide
The dripples, reripples like the locusts astride;
As the boat turns upon the silvery spread
It leaves—strange—a shadow dead.

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The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Day by Lydia Maria Child
Lydia Maria Child

Over the river, and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way,
To carry the sleigh,
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To grandfather's house away!
We would not stop
For doll or top,
For 't is Thanksgiving day.

Over the river, and through the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
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Brooklyn Narcissus by Paul Blackburn
Paul Blackburn

Straight rye whiskey, 100 proof
you need a better friend?
Yes. Myself.

The lights
the lights
the lonely lovely fucking lights
and the bridge on a rainy Tuesday night
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The Beginning of Speech by Adonis
Adonis
The child I was came to me
once,
a strange face
He said nothing We walked
each of us glancing at the other in silence, our steps
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How We Heard the Name by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
The river brought down
dead horses, dead men
and military debris,
indicative of war
or official acts upstream,
but it went by, it all
goes by, that is the thing
about the river. Then
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The Unfaithful Housewife by Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca

For Mary Peace Then I led her to the river
certain she was still a virgin
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Semele Recycled by Carolyn Kizer
Carolyn Kizer
After you left me forever,
I was broken into pieces,
and all the pieces flung into the river.
Then the legs crawled ashore
and aimlessly wandered the dusty cow-track.
They became, for a while, a simple roadside shrine:
A tiny table set up between the thighs
held a dusty candle, weed-and-fieldflower chains
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poem in praise of menstruation by Lucille Clifton
Lucille Clifton
if there is a river
more beautiful than this
bright as the blood
red edge of the moon if

there is a river
more faithful than this
returning each month
to the same delta if there
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Indian River by Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens
The trade-wind jingles the rings in the nets around the racksby the docks on Indian River.
It is the same jingle of the water among roots under thebanks of the palmettoes,
It is the same jingle of the red-bird breasting the orange-treesout of the cedars.
Yet there is no spring in Florida, neither in boskage perdu, noron the nunnery beaches.
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He Who Loved Beauty by Alec Brock Stevenson
Alec Brock Stevenson
“I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty.” —Confucius Dolorous, here he made his stand
Like those who are beaten,
Behind, the mountains, and in front, the sea,
To the west a rock by the brown river eaten.
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A Poplar by William Faulkner
William Faulkner
Why do you shiver there
Between the white river and the road?
You are not cold,
With the sun light dreaming about you;
And yet you lift your pliant supplicating arms as though
To draw clouds from the sky to hide your slenderness.

You are a young girl
Trembling in the throes of ecstatic modesty,
A white objective girl
Whose clothing has been forcibly taken away from her.
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A London Thoroughfare. 2 A.M. by Amy Lowell
Amy Lowell
They have watered the street,
It shines in the glare of lamps,
Cold, white lamps,
And lies
Like a slow-moving river,
Barred with silver and black.
Cabs go down it,
One,
And then another.
Between them I hear the shuffling of feet.
Tramps doze on the window-ledges,
Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks.
The city is squalid and sinister,
With the silver-barred street in the midst,
Slow-moving,
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Conversation 23: On Cause by Rosmarie Waldrop
Rosmarie Waldrop
I step into my mother’s room, she says, and though a woman’s body is a calendar of births and injunctions to death, time disappears. Only dead enough to bury could prove sound to silence or the anxiety I know by heart and lung. In my mother’s room. The tie between us anticipates any move to sever it. Terror and lack of perspective. The river runs clear without imparting its clarity, whether we step into it or not.



Deep in the bones, he says. If a butterfly fluttering its wings in China can cause a storm in Rhode Island, how much more the residues of radiation, family resemblance and past rituals. The stove glows red. Thin apple trees line the road. You think you are taking a clean sheet of paper, and it’s already covered with signs, illegible, as by child’s hand.



The heart has its rhythm of exchange, she says, without surplus or deficit. Mine murmurs your name while conjugating precise explosions with valves onto the infinite. I take it down with me, in the body, to develop in a darkroom of my own. They way the current elongates our reflection in the river and seems to carry it off.



A death without corruption is the promise of photography, he says. Focus and light meter translating a cut of flesh into a tense past laughing its red off. But the film’s too clear. Even if smudged with fingerprints. Even if the light falls into the arms of love.
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Son of Msippi by Henry Dumas
Henry Dumas
Up
from Msippi I grew.
(Bare walk and cane stalk
make a hungry belly talk.)
Up
from the river of death.
(Walk bare and stalk cane
make a hungry belly talk.)
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The Dice Changer by Duane Niatum
Duane Niatum
Raven steals your name for an autumn joke:
buries it along with you under the broadest hemlock
known to squirrel or chipmunk.
He croaks it’s too bad you were awake for the event.
He accuses you of boring him
with the same old questions over and over.
You attempt revolt to prove his rattle
is cracked and as brittle as his song.
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At a Solemn Musick by Delmore Schwartz
Delmore Schwartz
Let the musicians begin,
Let every instrument awaken and instruct us
In love’s willing river and love’s dear discipline:
We wait, silent, in consent and in the penance
Of patience, awaiting the serene exaltation
Which is the liberation and conclusion of expiation.

Now may the chief musician say:
“Lust and emulation have dwelt amoung us
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No Images by William Waring Cuney
William Waring Cuney
She does not know
her beauty,
she thinks her brown body
has no glory.

If she could dance
naked
under palm trees
and see her image in the river,
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Pure Conversation with a Chinese Character by Marin Sorescu
Marin Sorescu
I.
I’m trying to spell out a state of amazement,
A sweet dilation, the sway of spirit,
That only finds room in your shape.
They say that
Transposed in our alphabet
A Chinese sentence can turn into
A series of one and the same conjunction.
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In Memorium: Alphonse Campbell Fordham by Mary Weston Fordham
Mary Weston Fordham
Aged 6 Years, 2 Months, 20 Days

Almost whose last words were
“We shall meet beyond the River.”
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A Toast for Men Yun-Ch’ing by Du Fu
Du Fu
Illimitable happiness,
But grief for our white heads.
We love the long watches of the night, the red candle.
It would be difficult to have too much of meeting,
Let us not be in hurry to talk of separation.
But because the Heaven River will sink,
We had better empty the wine-cups.
To-morrow, at bright dawn, the world’s business will entangle us.
We brush away our tears,
We go—East and West.

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“And Change, with hurried hand, has swept these scenes” by Frederick Goddard Tuckerman
Frederick Goddard Tuckerman
from Sonnets, Second Series

XVIII

And Change, with hurried hand, has swept these scenes:
The woods have fallen; across the meadow-lot
The hunter’s trail and trap-path is forgot;
And fire has drunk the swamps of evergreens!
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The Sermon on the Warpland by Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks
“The fact that we are black
is our ultimate reality.”
—Ron Karenga

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Affairs by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
Dawn on the black hill, and up on the roof
cats drowsing. Last night, there was a boy
who fell off this roof, breaking his back.
The wind riffles the cool leaves of the trees.
The red clouds above are warm and move slowly.
A stray dog appears in the alley below, sniffing
the boy on the cobblestones, and a raw wail
rises up among chimneys: someone’s unhappy.
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“And then we cowards” by Cesare Pavese
Cesare Pavese
And then we cowards
who loved the whispering
evening, the houses,
the paths by the river,
the dirty red lights
of those places, the sweet
soundless sorrow—
we reached our hands out
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The Answer by Countess of Winchilsea Anne Finch
Countess of Winchilsea Anne Finch
Highlight Actions Enable or disable annotations
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At a VA Hospital in the Middle of the United States of America: An Act in a Play by Etheridge Knight
Etheridge Knight
Stars from five wars, scars,
Words filled with ice and fear,
Nightflares and fogginess,
and a studied regularity.
Gon’ lay down my sword ’n’ shield—
Down by the river side, down by the river side—
Down by the river side...

Former Sergeant Crothers, among the worst,
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Damselfly, Trout, Heron by John Engels
John Engels
The damselfly folds its wings
over its body when at rest. Captured,
it should not be killed
in cyanide, but allowed to die
slowly: then the colors,
especially the reds and blues,
will last. In the hand
it crushes easily into a rosy
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Down By the Salley Gardens by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.
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I Hear a River thro’ the Valley Wander by Trumbull Stickney
Trumbull Stickney
I hear a river thro’ the valley wander
Whose water runs, the song alone remaining.
A rainbow stands and summer passes under.
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Leda by H.D.
H.D.
Where the slow river
meets the tide,
a red swan lifts red wings
and darker beak,
and underneath the purple down
of his soft breast
uncurls his coral feet.

Through the deep purple
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The Long Voyage by Malcolm Cowley
Malcolm Cowley
Not that the pines were darker there,
nor mid-May dogwood brighter there,
nor swifts more swift in summer air;
it was my own country,

having its thunderclap of spring,
its long midsummer ripening,
its corn hoar-stiff at harvesting,
almost like any country,
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Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?—

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
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The River at Wolf by Jean Valentine
Jean Valentine
Coming east we left the animals
pelican beaver osprey muskrat and snake
their hair and skin and feathers
their eyes in the dark: red and green.
Your finger drawing my mouth.

Blessed are they who remember
that what they now have they once longed for.

A day a year ago last summer
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The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter by Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound
After Li Po While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
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The River Now by Richard Hugo
Richard Hugo
Hardly a ghost left to talk with. The slavs moved on
or changed their names to something green. Greeks gave up
old dishes and slid into repose. Runs of salmon thin
and thin until a ripple in October might mean carp.
Huge mills bang and smoke. Day hangs thick with commerce
and my favorite home, always overgrown with roses,
collapsed like moral advice. Tugs still pound against
the outtide pour but real, running on some definite fuel.
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River Road by Herbert Morris
Herbert Morris
Running off with the boy at the gas station,
yellow-haired, clear-eyed, with a pair of hands
nothing, you understand, would prove too much for,
is, it seems, a simple enough solution.

Consequences never enter your thinking
at the start. Whatever the implications
of the act, of the speed with which you act,
all one knows, and all one chooses to know,
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from Stops Along the Western Bank of the Missouri River: Of the River Itself by Michael Anania
Michael Anania
This is my advice to foreigners:
call it simply—the river;
never say old muddy
or even Missouri,
and except when it is necessary
ignore the fact that it moves.
It is the river, a singular,
stationary figure of division.
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To a Husband by Amy Lowell
Amy Lowell
Brighter than fireflies upon the Uji River
Are your words in the dark, Beloved.

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Triptych by Samuel Menashe
Samuel Menashe
When my mother She who is not All at once
Was a young girl Who she was I could see
Before the War Waits to be My mother
Reading sad books Yet she is In eternity
By the river Already I told her
Sometimes, she Mother She always
Looked up, wisely Whose child Would be
But did not dream Though not yet The one
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Waiting There by Michael Anania
Michael Anania
As others or ourselves
let’s say—furtive, then,

inconsequent and sad—
or on the edge of thought,

perhaps, or into some
predictable meandering,

the outward accelerations
of water against its shore
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The Green Car by Landis Everson
Landis Everson
Defend me. I am not capable.
The river sweeps by three minutes at once
cleansing me of guilt. But the bear
crashes through it and breaches my
innocence.
He rages and frightens my innocence.

The psychologist says, "You are the bear.
You are the river.
You are the green car
crossing the bridge. Defend yourself."

But the green car
is in a forest I have failed to speak to.
The green car was never intended
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Aesthetics of the Asylum by Constance Urdang
Constance Urdang
The sober reality
Was a double line of orphans in blue smocks
Marching above the blue river
Under the smoky eye of winter.
It is possible to envy them;
The picture of which they formed a part
Was so well composed,
In shades of blue and smoke
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The Future by Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
A wanderer is man from his birth.
He was born in a ship
On the breast of the river of Time;
Brimming with wonder and joy
He spreads out his arms to the light,
Rivets his gaze on the banks of the stream.

As what he sees is, so have his thoughts been.
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The Healing Improvisation of Hair by Jay Wright
Jay Wright
If you undo your do you would
be strange. Hair has been on my mind.
I used to lean in the doorway
and watch my stony woman wind
the copper through the black, and play
with my understanding, show me she cóuld
take a cup of river water,
and watch it shimmy, watch it change,
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How We Heard the Name by Alan Dugan
Alan Dugan
The river brought down
dead horses, dead men
and military debris,
indicative of war
or official acts upstream,
but it went by, it all
goes by, that is the thing
about the river. Then
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In Response to a Rumor That the Oldest Whorehouse in Wheeling, West Virginia Has Been Condemned by James Wright
James Wright
I will grieve alone,
As I strolled alone, years ago, down along
The Ohio shore.
I hid in the hobo jungle weeds
Upstream from the sewer main,
Pondering, gazing.

I saw, down river,
At Twenty-third and Water Streets
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The Journey by Yvor Winters
Yvor Winters
Snake River Country I now remembered slowly how I came,
I, sometime living, sometime with a name,
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Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment. In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
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The Lady of Shalott (1842) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Part I
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
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A Musical Instrument by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I.
WHAT was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river ?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.

II.
He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bed of the river :
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
Ere he brought it out of the river.
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The Reverie of Poor Susan by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
At the corner of Wood Street, when daylight appears,
Hangs a Thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years:
Poor Susan has passed by the spot, and has heard
In the silence of morning the song of the Bird.

'Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
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Seth Compton by Edgar Lee Masters
Edgar Lee Masters
When I died, the circulating library
Which I built up for Spoon River,
And managed for the good of inquiring minds,
Was sold at auction on the public square,
As if to destroy the last vestige
Of my memory and influence.
For those of you who could not see the virtue
Of knowing Volney's "Ruins" as well as Butler's "Analogy"
And "Faust" as well as "Evangeline,"
Were really the power in the village,
And often you asked me,
"What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?"
I am out of your way now, Spoon River,
Choose your own good and call it good.
For I could never make you see
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Summer near the River by Carolyn Kizer
Carolyn Kizer
themes from the Tzu Yeh and the Book of Songs I have carried my pillow to the windowsill
And try to sleep, with my damp arms crossed upon it,
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Thanksgiving Day “Over the river and through the wood” by Lydia Maria Child
Lydia Maria Child
Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the wood--
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes
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Traveling through the Dark by William E. Stafford
William E. Stafford
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
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Why They Turned Back/Why They Went On by Constance Urdang
Constance Urdang
Because a black bird flew across the road;
Because the attendant at the pump turned surly;
Because the uncertain weather
Made Mother nervous,
And, back home, the telephone kept ringing
In an empty house;
Because a white bird flew across the road.

How far had they come?
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Scrapbook by George Scarbrough
George Scarbrough
Green and brown current of river:
Reverberant iron bridge: crossing over,
Woman and child fixed at the center,
Holding hands and both weeping:

Because her child is weeping: because
His mother weeps: because the river, far
Underfoot, glitters through cracks
In the wooden flooring that widen
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