Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, MISSISSIPPI-MISSOURI, by CHARLES H. TIFFANY

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First Line: In clear cold blue itasca lake, in scores of mountain
Last Line: Like swaying drunken harlots in the gulf of mexico.
Subject(s): Mississippi; Mississippi River; Missouri; New Orleans; Rivers

In clear cold blue Itasca Lake, in scores of mountain springs,
In rippling streams and rivulets doth Queen of Waters rise,
And curving, dancing, crystal clear, her joyous flood she flings
At Falls of Minnehaha clean as the azure skies.

She plays the game with majesty of virgin Goddess pride;
"Man may stay, impound, delay, but peril waits—beware!
Span me with mighty bridges, your ships in my waters guide:
But my imperious will is Law—a challenge if you dare!"

Tremendous is the wonder-game, the man and nature strife,
The will of man and the river's will with hazards mountain-high,
And play is clean for scores of miles with zest of battle of life:
Lose or win as chips cash in—the limit is played to the sky!

But change is wrought upon the stream: From far off western plains
A murky, frowzy, turbid flood comes seething, roystering in,
And Mississippi's loveliness polluted is with stains
As if a splendid maiden were plunging into sin.

Thenceforward reaving power, swaying, roaring, staggering drunk,
Marks the vast downpouring maelstrom draining half a continent:
From east and west the rivers join the mighty boiling trunk,
A vast Golconda, spawning, killing, crime-stained, innocent.

Stupendous in its hundred moods the giant flood careens,
Missouri—Mississippi, life and death and weal and woe;
Their ravished riches spending as they race through New Orleans
Like swaying drunken harlots in the Gulf of Mexico.

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