A river went singing adown to the sea,
A-singing -- low -- singing --
And the dim rippling river said softly to me,
"I'm bringing, a-bringing --
While floating along --
A beautiful song
To the shores that are white where the waves are so weary,
To the beach that is burdened with wrecks that are dreary.
A song sweet and calm
As the peacefulest psalm;
And the shore that was sad
Will be grateful and glad,
And the weariest wave from its dreariest dream
Will wake to the sound of the song of the stream;
And the tempests shall cease
And there shall be peace."
From the fairest of fountains,
And farthest of mountains,
From the stillness of snow
Came the stream in its flow.
Down the slopes where the rocks are gray,
Thro' the vales where the flowers are fair --
Where the sunlight flashed -- where the shadows lay
Like stories that cloud a face of care,
The river ran on -- and on -- and on --
Day and night, and night and day;
Going and going, and never gone,
Longing to flow to the "far away",
Staying and staying, and never still;
Going and staying, as if one will
Said, "Beautiful river, go to the sea;"
And another will whispered, "Stay with me:"
And the river made answer, soft and low --
"I go and stay" -- "I stay and go."
But what is the song, I said, at last?
To the passing river that never passed;
And a white, white wave whispered, "List to me,
I'm a note in the song for the beautiful sea, --
A song whose grand accents no earth-din may sever,
And the river flows on in the same mystic key
That blends in one chord the `forever and never'."
December 15, 1878.