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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Western States: Arkansas, the River

The River’s Lesson

By William Osborn Stoddard (1835–1925)

UNDER the canopied bank we lie,

And the muddy river is rushing by,

Yellow and foul from its eddying stray

Through a thousand miles of wandering way,

Gross and turbid;—and yet, I know

That this same troubled and mingled flow

Shall one day clear as the crystal be,

After it dies in the deep, far sea.

I have watched it long, with an aching brow,

Bending above it, and wonder now

If the river, so full of grime and strife,

May not be an emblem of human life,

And if many a soul that has wandered and toiled,

All corrupted and gross and soiled,

At the end may not calmly glide

Into that last great swallowing tide,

And clear and pure as the crystal be,

After it dies in that deep, far sea.