The River

By Charles Sorley

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 Inscrutability;
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
Friday, April 19th, 2024