Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO A STAGNANT RIVER, by ALICE CARY



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TO A STAGNANT RIVER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O river, why lie with your beautiful face
Last Line: To yourself, your creator, be true first of all.
Subject(s): Rivers


O RIVER, why lie with your beautiful face
To the hill? Can you move him away from his place?
You may moan, -- you may clasp him with soft arms forever, --
He will still be a flinty hill, -- you be a river.

'T is willful, 't is wicked to waste in despair
The treasure so many are dying to share,
The gifts that we have, Heaven lends for right using,
And not for ignoring, and not for abusing.

Let the moss have his love, and the grass and the dew, --
By God's law he cannot be mated with you.
His friend is the stubble, his life is the dust,
You are not what you would, -- you must be what you must.

If into his keeping your fortune you cast,
I tell you the end will be hatred at last,
Or death through stagnation; your rest is in motion;
The aim of your being, the cloud and the ocean.

Love cannot be love, with itself set at strife;
To sin against Nature is death and not life.
You may freeze in the shadow or seethe in the sun,
But the oil and the water will not be at one.

Your pride and your peace, when this passion is crossed,
Will pay for the struggle whatever it cost;
But though earth dissolve, though the heavens should fall,
To yourself, your Creator, be true first of all.





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