Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Where Go the Boats

Dark brown is the river,
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mind a-boating -
Where will all come home?

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.

Poem found in this well-loved volume:

from the "worth the price of the book" introduction by Garrison Keillor:

At times life becomes almost impossible....But it can help to say words. Moaning helps. So does prayer. God hears prayer and restores the souls of the faithful.

Walking helps. Many people have pulled themselves up out of the pit by the simple expedient of rising to their feet, leaning slightly forward, and putting one foot ahead of the other.

Poems help. In Mrs. Fleischman's eleventh-grade English class, my assignment was to memorize Shakespeare's sonnet "When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes," and so I did, and having it in my head for forty years has brought me many moments of clarity, and also having Housman's "Loveliest of trees the cherry now," and "A Blessing" by James Wright, and "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver...They don't come to me in moments of hilarity, but often when feeling bereft or drowning in work or even just being late to an appointment, stuck in traffic, ranting at myself, Wright's two Indian ponies have come to me, their eyes full of kindness, Oliver's geese have honked, Shakespeare's lark at break of day from sullen earth arises, the heart is calmed, the gnashing stops, and one goes on.

And one goes on.


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