River! that in silence windest
Through the meadows, bright and free,
Till at length thy rest thou findest
In the bosom of the sea!

Four long years of mingled feeling,
Half in rest, and half in strife,
I have seen thy waters stealing
Onward, like the stream of life.

Thou hast taught me, Silent River!
Many a lesson, deep and long;
Thou hast been a generous giver;
I can give thee but a song.

Oft in sadness and in illness,
I have watched thy current glide,
Till the beauty of its stillness
Overflowed me, like a tide.

And in better hours and brighter,
When I saw thy waters gleam,
I have felt my heart beat lighter,
And leap onward with thy stream.

Not for this alone I love thee,
Nor because thy waves of blue
From celestial seas above thee
Take their own celestial hue.

Where yon shadowy woodlands hide thee,
And thy waters disappear,
Friends I love have dwelt beside thee,
And have made thy margin dear.

More than this;–thy name reminds me
Of three friends, all true and tried;
And that name, like magic, binds me
Closer, closer to thy side.

Friends my soul with joy remembers!
How like quivering flames they start,
When I fan the living embers
On the hearth-stone of my heart!

‘T is for this, thou Silent River!
That my spirit leans to thee;
Thou hast been a generous giver,
Take this idle song from me.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem To the River Charles


  1. ryan says:

    I loved your poem on the one poem you wrote. It was sweet!!!!!!!!

  2. Gail says:

    From the front windows on the second floor of the Longfellow house in Cambridge you can see the Charles River. Actually, the land from the Longfellow House at 105 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    all belonged to the Longfellows. The US Park Service has kept it all open. The trees are taller but you can see how the view to the Charles River would have been inspirational. Given the amount of life in the house with six children and the early untimely tragic death of his wife when the youngest daughter was only 5 years old, the sensitivity in the poem is remarkable. This poem and the one about the Old Clock on the Stairs gives us an idea of how Longfellow wrote about life, death and the details of daily life we often miss today. Give yourself a treat and visit this remarkable Historic Site, take a tour with the park rangers and listen to them recite Longfellow poems as you stand in this place of American literary history. More information can be obtained from the Longfellow House History and Guide from http://www.eParks.com

  3. mike hunt says:

    grandfather time wrote very boring poems, and this is one of them.
    the end.

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