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Between these frowning granite steeps
The human river onward sweeps;
And here it moves with torrent force,
And there it slacks its heady course:
But what controls its variant flow
A keener wit than mine must show,
Who cast myself upon the tide,
And merging with its current glide--
A drop, an atom, of the whole
Of its great bulk and wandering soul.


O curbless river, savage stream,
Thou art my wilderness extreme,
Where I may move as free, as lone,
As in the waste with wood o'ergrown,
And broodings of as brave a strain
May here unchallenged entertain,
Whether meridian light display
The swift routine of current day,
Or jet electric, diamond-clear,
Convoke a world of glamour here.


Yet when of solitude I tire,
Speak comradeship to my desire,
O most companionable tide,
Where all to all are firm allied,
And each hath countenance from the rest,
Although the tie be unconfessed!


I muse upon this river's brink;
I listen long; I strive to think
What cry goes forth, of many blent,
And by that cry what thing is meant--
What simple legend of old fate
Man's voice, here inarticulate,
From out this dim and strange uproar
Still heaves upon the skyey shore!


Amid this swift, phantasmal stream
Sometimes I move as in a dream;
Then wondrous quiet, for a space,
The clanging tumult will displace;
And toil's hard gride and pleasure's hum
No longer to my ear may come:
A pantomimic, haunted throng
Fareth in silence deep and strong,
And seems in summoned haste to urge,
Half prescient, towards a destined verge!


The river flows--unwasting flows;
Nor less nor more its volume grows,
From source to sea still onward rolled,
As days are shed and years are told;
And yet, so mutable its wave,
That no man twice therein may lave,
But, ere he can return again,
Himself shall subtle change sustain;
Since more and more each life must be
Tide-troubled by the drawing sea.