Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RIVER, by SARAH NORCLIFFE CLEGHORN

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THE RIVER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Down to the stilldeep river
Last Line: Save only in the sea.
Subject(s): Rivers

Down to the Stilldeep River
How many pathways run
By each, from field and city
Come over, one by one,
Soldiers and priests and workmen,
Mothers and maids and wives,
Governors, thieves, and paupers,
To cool their burning lives;

Foreigners, black men, white men,
Christian and heathen come,
Some in their robes of office,
Some in their shame; and some,
Rising from anguished pillows,
Hither in darkness first
Stumble a briery pathway
To quench that ardent thirst.

And some would check the River
From running on so fleet,
For fear the wider water
Will prove no longer sweet.
Some dream their vessel only
Can catch the sparkle fine:
"My cup bears wholesome water,
But yours is filled with brine."

Some plunge into the current;
Some lean and taste from land;
Some dip a silver goblet,
And some a blood-stained hand;
Some dwell beside the River;
Some far and seldom come;
Some only thirst when wounded,
And but when dying, some.

But others, seeking inland
For folk with bruise or scar,
Look where the loud and shameless,
The dumb and hopeless, are;
And these they coax and comrade,
And cheer them to the brink.
So was I once befriended,
Who now full gladly drink.

And divers great explorers
Have sought to trace its rills,
But none knows where it rises,
Save only in the hills;
And many charts and soundings
Have mapped its courses free,
But none knows where it empties,
Save only in the sea.

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