Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SHREWSBURY RIVER, by WILLIAM LAWRENCE CHITTENDEN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SHREWSBURY RIVER, by            
First Line: Onward rolls the shrewsbury river
Last Line: And at last wind safe to sea!
Alternate Author Name(s): Chittenden, Larry
Subject(s): Rivers

Onward rolls the Shrewsbury river,
Sweeping proudly to the sea,
Dreaming oft, yet slumbering never,
Clothed in mists and mystery.

Speak and tell thy tales, O river!
Tell thy story now, I pray,
Whisper us some olden legend
From the realms of yesterday.

Oft when moonbeams fair are flying
O'er the ivory silver seas,
And the zephyrs sad are sighing,
Through the drowsy whispering trees,

I have heard thy ripples murmur
Ghostly songs in rhythmic flow --
Of old faces drifted seaward
In the far-off long ago.

Thou hast heard Atlantic dirges
And the lonely sea-bird's cries,
Long before the birth of Moses,
E'er brave Hudson blessed thy skies.

E'er he watched the golden twilight
Plant her banners starry furled,
Far beyond the sun-kissed Highlands
Of a new-found western world.

Thou hast heard the billows murmur
In the dusky red man's ear,
That there is a Great, Great Spirit,
Ever present, always near.

Thou hast seen red-handed rovers,
Fierce and wild amid thy groves --
Ay, and buried wreckers' treasures
On the margins of thy coves.

Well thou know'st the sailors' coming,
Homeward-bound to kiss their brides,
Gladly singing in the morning
As their vessels stemmed thy tides.

Youth and beauty rare have rested
On thy gently swelling breast;
Yachtsmen gay and weary seamen
Love thy Horseshoe harbor rest.

Ah, what hearts of joys and sorrows
Thou hast won in thy league's race!
Ah, what wealth of rich to-morrows
Has flown seaward o'er thy face!

Ah, what throngs of ardent lovers
Thou hast lost since days of yore!
Lost! ah, yes! Their spectre vessels
Shall return to thee no more.

Fare thee well, thou generous river;
May life's current flow like thee,
Blessing lives and lands forever,
And at last wind safe to sea!

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