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early morning beside the willamette river

roll river
roll, there is
no tumult to
thy course –

in hushed power
you move steady, you
placate to no man –

the obdurate force of
a hundred freight
trains rests in your
belly, while

you gently sing for me
a laconic reverie –
with gratitude my
soul takes flight

skimming thy steamy
waters, one toe dragging
behind it, an eternal
V – roll river, roll.

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3 thoughts on “early morning beside the willamette river

  1. I like this a lot although I have a question in my mind.
    Mainly I love the strong representation of the power of the river and the contrasting sense of peace. I’ve read the poem several times now and that comes through steadily. There’s also a melodious sound to the lines, and a simplicity. Most effective!
    But my question is why the choice of ‘thy’? Isn’t it archaic? Have you made a decision to bring that in to underscore the timelessness of the scene? Or was it an unconscious choice? You don’t mind me asking, I hope.

    • I really appreciate the question. This poem went through several edits and this really helped me understand my own choice of words. Here are the reasons – one is practical and the other has some poetic meaning.

      I am really bothered by repetitive words in poems. My first draft used “hushed” twice and it drove me nuts. There are too many words out there to ever repeat any in a piece. Pronouns don’t usually fall into this but since I was speaking to the river the “you”s and “your”s began to pile up. This got me searching for something else.

      As I sat there pondering another way to address it, I wanted to convey a measure of reverence or holiness. It really was a beautiful scene so I chose Thy at first then changed to thy – because there can be only one “Thy.” These lead to thous also and that just read ridiculously so i mixed pronouns leaving the reverence at the beginning and ending.

      Thank you for asking!!

      • Ah yes, I see. I can identify with the desire to avoid repetition of words, although of course your repeat of “roll river roll” is intentional — and very satisfying.

        Also I understand that search for words that would convey reverence. The poem certainly does that.

        Thanks for opening up on this!
        John

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