Like the River

Poem By Tom Wolfe

Why are you absent in the night, my love?
Where are you when the bells ring in the night?
Now, there are bells again,
How strange to hear the bells
In this vast, sleeping city!
Now, in a million little towns,
Now in the dark and lonely places of this earth,
Small bells are ringing out the time!
O my dark soul,
My child, my darling, my beloved,
Where are you now,
And in what place,
And in what time?
Oh, ring, sweet bells, above him
While he sleeps!
I send my love to you upon those bells.

Strange time, forever lost,
Forever flowing like the river!
Lost time, lost people, and lost love—
Forever lost!
There's nothing you can hold
There in the river!
There's nothing you can keep
There in the river!
It takes your love, it takes your life,
It takes the great ships going out to sea,
And it takes time,
Dark, delicate time,
The little ticking moments of strange time
That count us into death.

Now in the dark
I hear the passing of dark time,
And all the sad and secret flowing of my life.
All of my thoughts are flowing like the river,
All of my life is passing like the river,
I dream and talk and feel just like the river,
As it flows by me,
By me, to the sea.

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And who shall say—
Whatever disenchantment follows—
That we ever forget magic,

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We shall not come again.
We never shall come back again.
But over us all, over us all,


The wasting helve of the moon rode into heaven
Over the bulk of the hills.
There was a smell of wet grass and lilac,


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The slackened fountain
Dripped a fat spire of freezing water
Into its thickening rim of ice.

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And the slant light steepened in the skies,
The old red light of waning day
Made magic fire upon the river,