Death Of A River

( poem )

The Garden of Proserpine

by A. C. Swinburne, 1866 

( historical )

Photos ofThe Duwamish River, Washington State

 

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Here, where the world is quiet;
     Here, where all trouble seems
Dead winds’ and spent waves’ riot
     In doubtful dreams of dreams;
I watch the green field growing
For reaping folk and sowing,
For harvest-time and mowing,
     A sleepy world of streams.

 

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I am tired of tears and laughter,
     And men that laugh and weep,
Of what may came hereafter
     For men that sow to reap:
I am weary of days and hours,
Blown buds of barren flowers,
Desires and dreams and powers
     And everything but sleep.

 

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Here life has death for neighbour,
     And far from eye or ear
Wan waves and wet winds labour,
     Weak ships and spirits steer;
They drive adrift, and whither
They wot not who make thither;
But no such winds blow hither,
     And no such things grow here.

 

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There go the loves that wither,
     The old loves with wearier wings;
And all dead years draw thither,
     And all disastrous things;
Dead dreams of days forsaken,
Blind buds that snows have shaken,
Wild leaves that winds have taken,
     Red strays of ruined springs.

 

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We are not sure of sorrow,
     And joy was never sure;
Today will die tomorrow;
     Time stoops to no man’s lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
     Weeps that no loves endure.

 

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From too much love of living,
     From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
     Whatever gods may be
That no man lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
     Winds somewhere safe to sea.

 

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Then star nor sun shall waken,
     Nor any change of light;
Nor sound of waters shaken,
     Nor any sound or sight;
Nor wintry nor vernal,
Nor days, nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
     In an eternal night.

for more information on the Duwamish River visit

Life on The Duwamish River

A River Lost

The Paper Noose

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3 thoughts on “Death Of A River

  1. Very nice blend of poetry and photography! The Duwamish River marked the spot where the Black River braided together with the Green and White Rivers back in the day. At the turn of the last century, the White River was blasted by local farmers out of its rightful banks and into Pierce County. Then the locks were constructed on Lake Washington, lowering the level of the lake and thereby depriving the Black River of its source. It went immediately extinct. Now the Duwamish is simply an extension of the Green River, which, of course, has its own less than savory reputation…

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  2. Hi Nurse- it is sad how well these things fit togehter-

    Hi there Kristyl- thank you for adding your comments about the history of the River- as well as some words about the Green River- I wanted to give the sense that this wasn’t just a body of water and you really helped put that idea forward.

    anita

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