124. Poetry is Like a River.


by Dr. C. B. Skelton


Poetry is like a river winding

through the countryside.

When its banks are steep and binding,

it may be deep . . . not wide.

But when it flows through level ground

and not much holds it in,

quite wide places may be found

and depth might be quite thin.

When it flows through regions icy,

a river will be cold;

but if the land is hot and spicy,

its heat may rise three-fold.


Because it’s not so deep and rushing,

must it not be a river?

Are only words so deep or gushing

in a poet’s quiver?

Can only issues flaming hot,

like passion and desire,

or war or peace or patriots

ignite a poet’s fire?

Must all rivers be the same

throughout all God’s creation

or poets play the same old game

the breadth of our nation.


All poets seek those words sublime.

Some may choose to meter;

others like to work in rhyme;

some think free-verse is neater.

With all kinds of poetic form

and subjects we might choose,

there is, of course, no single norm

that every poet must use.

One final point this writer makes

before his fond ‘Adieu,’

The form a poem or a river takes

depends on what it flows through.