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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Annie Adams Fields (1834–1915)

The River Charles

BESIDE thee, O my river, where I wait

Through vista long of years, and drink my fill

Of beauty and of light, a steady rill

Of never-failing good, whate’er my state,—

How speechless seem these lips, my soul how dull,

Never to say, nor half to say, how dear

The washing of thy ripples, nor the full

And silent flow which speaks not to the ear!

Thou hast been unto me a gracious nurse,

Telling me many a tale in listening hours

Of those who praised thee with their ripening powers,—

Our elder poets, nourished at thy source.

O happy Cambridge meadows! where now rest

Forever the proud memories of their lives;

O happy Cambridge air! forever blest

With deathless song the bee of time still hives;—

And farther on, where many a wild flower blooms

Through a fair Sunday up and down thy banks,

Beautiful with thy blossoms, ranks on ranks,

What vanished eyes have sought thy dewy rooms!

I too have known thee, rushing, bright with foam,

Or sleeping idly, even as thou dost now,

Reflecting every wall and tower and dome,

And every vessel, clear from stern to prow,

Or in the moonlight, when the night is pale,

And the great city is still, and only thou

Givest me sign of life, and on thy brow

A beauty evanescent, flitting, frail!

O river! ever drifting toward the sea,

How common is thy fate! thus purposeless

To drift away, nor think what ’tis to be,

And sink in the vast wave of nothingness.

But ever to love’s life a second life

Is given, and his narrow river of days

Shall flow through other lives, and sleep in bays

Of quiet thought and calm the heart at strife.

Fortunate river! that through the poet’s thought

Hast run and washed life’s burden from his sight;

O happy river! thou his song hast brought,

And thou shalt live in poetry and light.