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Wallace Stevens

(October 2, 1879 – August 2, 1955 / Pennsylvania / United States)

The River of Rivers in Connecticut


There is a great river this side of Stygia
Before one comes to the first black cataracts
And trees that lack the intelligence of trees.

In that river, far this side of Stygia,
The mere flowing of the water is a gayety,
Flashing and flashing in the sun. On its banks,

No shadow walks. The river is fateful,
Like the last one. But there is no ferryman.
He could not bend against its propelling force.

It is not to be seen beneath the appearances
That tell of it. The steeple at Farmington
Stands glistening and Haddam shines and sways.

It is the third commonness with light and air,
A curriculum, a vigor, a local abstraction . . .
Call it, one more, a river, an unnamed flowing,

Space-filled, reflecting the seasons, the folk-lore
Of each of the senses; call it, again and again,
The river that flows nowhere, like a sea.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (The River of Rivers in Connecticut by Wallace Stevens )

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  • Gary Witt (12/26/2009 4:10:00 PM)

    There is a typo in line 15, which should read, 'Call it, once more...'

    On a literal level, if I understand things correctly, Haddam is on the Connecticut River. Farmington, appropriately enough, is on the Farmington River, which meanders east and empties into the Connecticut River. So the Farmington steeple is actually on a tributary to the Connecticut. Also, the Connecticut River is tidal for about sixty miles in from Long Island Sound. So, for those sixty miles, I suppose one could say that it flows nowhere, like the sea.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the assessment by Messrs Howard and Palmer.

    -G (Report) Reply

  • Robert Howard (9/16/2006 10:53:00 PM)

    My guess is that the '1' giver will not be walking out on stage to receive his/her Pulitzer Prize any time soon. (Report) Reply

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