Walter Richard Cassels

(1826-1907 / England)

The Dark River - Poem by Walter Richard Cassels

Across the mountains and the hills,
Across the valleys and the swelling seas,
By lakes and rivers whose deep murmur fills
Earth's dreams with sweet prophetic melodies,
Together have we come unto this place,
And here we say farewell a little space:

You, backward turning through the land,
To tarry 'mid its beauty yet awhile--
I, o'er the River, to another strand
With cheerful heart, so part we with a smile.
Shall space have any power o'er god-like souls?
Love shall bridge o'er the stream that 'twixt us rolls!

Together wend we to the tide,
And as the first wave wets my foot, we part;--
E'en now methinks I see the other side;
And, though the stream be swift, a steady heart
And stalwart arm shall quell its cold dark waves.
Faith falters not e'en when the tempest raves.

Dark stream flowing so blackly on,
Thy turbid billows roll o'er golden sands;
Beneath the surface all thy fear is gone,
And precious gems fill full the diver's hands.
Yet how the heart lists breathless for the roar
Of billows plashing on the other shore!

_The other shore!_--Oh thou dim Land!
Hid by faint mists from the spent swimmer's eyes,
Until upon the sloping bank he stand,
Mute in the light of Eden-mysteries;
Thou golden Ophir of Youth's spirit-dream,
Shall I then reach thee through this turbid stream?

Friend! quail not! This same gloomy tide
Rolling its fearful breakers to the shore,
Shall be transform'd, upon the other side,
Into the crystal Life-stream, shaded o'er
By Paradisal groves, whose mellow fruit
Shall heal the sorrows of the destitute.

These ghostly vapours, brooding low,
Shall melt to sunny glories o'er my head,
And through them shall the golden city glow,
Whither I hasten singing, angel-led;
Friend! there is but a cloud-veil 'twixt us and the light,
One step beyond, and Heaven is in our sight.

Now the stream laps my vesture hem;
Back thou from my sad bosom to the world,
Leaving me here this current cold to stem;
Soon from thy sight shall I be swiftly whirl'd
Into the mystic darkness--never fear!
God's hand shall guide me unto vision clear.

Already thou art growing dim,
And distant on the fast receding shore;
The tide is strong, but still I trust in Him,
And know that I shall safely struggle o'er,
For now the plash on yonder shore I hear,
Amid sweet angel voices calm and clear.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, October 11, 2010

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