<a href="http://www.solearabiantree.net/namingofparts/"><b>Henry Reed</b></a> (1914–1986) reads his poem "The River," as part of the series <i>The Poet Speaks</i> (recorded March 12, 1970). Reproduced with the generous permission of the <a href="http://literature.britishcouncil.org/">British Council</a>, the <a href="http://hcl.harvard.edu/poetryroom/">Woodberry Poetry Room</a> at Harvard University, and the <a href="http://www.rlf.org.uk/">Royal Literary Fund</a>:
<a href="http://cadensa.bl.uk/uhtbin/cgisirsi/x/0/0/5?searchdata1=CKEY6391403&library=ALL">1CDR0003958 BD4 NSA</a>, British Library Sound Archive.
<a href="http://hollis.harvard.edu/?itemid=|library/m/aleph|002471181">TAPE ARCHIVE PR6035.E32 A6 1970x</a>, Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Published in <i>The Listener</i> shortly after this recording on <a href="http://www.solearabiantree.net/namingofparts/pdf/listener/twopoems26march1970.pdf">March 26, 1970</a> (along with "Three Words"), Jon Stallworthy notes in the <i>Collected Poems</i> (1991) that, while an early draft was begun in the 1950s, the final text of "The River" comes from Reed's handwritten emendations, and differs slightly from the <i>Listener</i> version in lines 21-22 (heard here):
Our tasks of the night go on, our ritual, our dance.
Our flames go up, reflected in the black, slow river.
Here you must think we are happy and fulfilled—
You who still wander
On that other side of the river, for whom, in the fated intrigue
Of the years and the days and the hours, it is not yet time
To set your foot on the silent, crowded raft
Of the all-expectant.
Perfervid lips here babble, and hands caress.
Your words will mingle with them, your hands reach out.
You will not be alone, you will only be one of the many
Who are not alone here,
In this sorrowful place, where I with a failing blood
Seek out in this dark place for one yet darker.
And pace the muddy shore, the slow ripple glaring,
And scan the distance
To where <i>you</i> stand, your features already reflecting
What they cannot yet absorb, our hectic lights,
And discerning never the scores of ardent eyes
That are turned toward you;
And discerning never the one who, bent in a separate silence,
Prays in the dark to become the one who is chosen
And sent from the flames of this raucous side of Acheron
To conduct you over.
<b>Henry Reed</b> (1970)