Worthy of its own post

A ‘comment’ my mother left with a nice piece of poetry:

Scottish Poetry Selection – Rivers

Here is an appreciation by Walter Wingate of the beauty of rivers.

How rivers gather beauty all the way!
Around their cradles mountains gloom and gleam;
Old mills beside their middle courses dream,
And wading kine, and willows silver-grey.
And where they tire at last of tilth and lea,
And feel the strange new pulsing of the tide,
Great quiet ships upon their bosom ride,
Or move mysterious to the waiting sea.

I find the largest prospect, clothed or bare,
Without the sheen of water to the sky,
Expressionless: a face without an eye,
A river makes a landscape everywhere!

Nice work, and thanks for sharing it mom! And while we’re at it, here are a couple of my favorites…if you couldn’t tell:

The first is by Aldo Leopold, a naturalist/philosopher who was all about thinking of nature as an organism, something I subscribe to in at least emotion, though not in my scientific dealings:

Aldo Leopold, Sand County Almanac 1970* (I’m not sure when the original essay was published)

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. By land is meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth. Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm. The land is one organism. Its parts, like our own parts, compete with each other and co-operate with each other. The competitions are as much a part of the inner workings as the co-operations. You can regulate them—cautiously—but not abolish them.

The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

Some of my favorite (and easiest to find on Google) excerpts from John Graves, Goodbye to a River. This book is truly one of my favorite pieces of literature. It is about the places where I grew up, they way things change, and the way aloneness can be sublime among the river.

A whole river is mountain country and hill country and flat country and swamp and delta country, is rock bottom and sand bottom and weed bottom and mud bottom, is blue, green, red, clear, brown, wide, narrow, fast, slow, clean and filthy water, is all the kinds of trees and grasses and all the breeds of animals and birds and men that pertain and have ever pertained to its changing shores, is a thousand differing and not compatible things in between that point where enough of the highland drainlets have trickled together to form it, and that wide, flat, probably desolate place where it discharges itself into the salt of the sea.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 1

The point was to be there…The aloneness of it was good.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 2

Canoes, too, are unobtrusive; they don’t storm the natural world or ride over it, but drift in upon it as part of its own silence. As you either care about what the land is or not, so do you like or dislike quiet things — sailboats, or rainy green mornings in foreign places, or a grazing herd, or the ruins of monasteries in mountains…Chances for being quiet nowadays are limited.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 4

A canyon wren was singing there; one always is. They love high rocks above water, and the wild falling song itself is like a cascade.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 5

On the river the wind wasn’t strong, but high up it was doing violence…The wind on the river died, and paddling I began to sweat. It was the kind of day that usually, in the Texas fall, is full of a kind of waiting; things are moving, the year is changing, a norther is coming…Winter there comes in waves, and keeps coming in waves till spring.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 8

I’ve learned to get along with her (Brazos River) pretty good the way she is. Don’t know how I’ll like her when she’s a lake. Good bottomland, them fish’ll be grazin’ on.

John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 9

A river has few ‘views.’ It seeks the lowest line of its country, straight or crooked, and what you see when you travel along it are mostly river and sky and trees, water and clouds and sun and shore. Things a quarter-mile away exist for you only because you know they are there; your consciousness of them is visual only if you walk ashore to see them. For a man who likes rivers, most of the time that is all right; for a man who seeks solitude, it’s special. But sometimes, too, the shores close in a bit as room walls will, and you crave more space.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 9

Were there, you ask, no edifying events along the Brazos? Was it all gore and bitter gall, blow and counterblow, hate spun out to hate’s only logical end? Didn’t a mother somewhere along the river’s banks once stroke a child’s head and spark in him a flame to build laws or glory or ease for his people? Didn’t jolly old men beneath live oaks tell one another tales in which no single droplet of blood sounded its splash? Didn’t sober, useful, decent people build for themselves sober, useful, decent lives, and lead us soberly, usefully, decently up through the years to that cultural peak upon which we now find ourselves standing?
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 15

It was good fishing, a little too good. In angling, as in reading, suspense is a quality worth having.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 16

Sand…in your ears, your eyes, your bed, your food, your pipe, your shoes…You adjust to the fact of it, and move your feet slowly while cooking,
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 18

I had a feeling that I could go on forever, if there were only river enough and time. But there weren’t.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 18

You could go on forever. You know it…You don’t miss anyone on God’s earth’s face. You’re no more bored with the sameness of your days and your diet and your tasks than a chickadee is bored, or the Passenger on the sunny bow, or a catfish; each day has its fullness, bracketed by sleep.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 18

The river’s aloneness was on me and I liked it and was going to hold onto it while it lasted.
John Graves, Goodbye to a River, ch. 18


2 responses to “Worthy of its own post

  1. Wow.. I started something didn’t I. I’m not sure if you ever picked up on the fact that I have always enjoyed poetry. I felt that the poem I sent reflected well the career choice you have made, and suited your current lifestyle and interests. I’m glad you felt it deserved a spot out in the open too… because it is a very beautiful poem. Thankyou for promoting it, and well, me too I guess.. lol. Love ya

  2. You’re welcome. It was an easy post. If you haven’t read to two books referenced, I highly recommend them as good writing, even if the message may not be perfect, they are very eloquent prose.

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