Rivers and Their Meaning in Poetry: A Poem

Updated on December 28, 2017
Tim Truzy info4u profile image

Tim Truzy is a poet, short-story author, and he is currently working on several novels.

The Roanoke River at Plymouth, NC
The Roanoke River at Plymouth, NC | Source

Rivers in Poetry

In poetry and other art forms, rivers symbolize a certain amount of indecisiveness. They may represent a progression along a treacherous route to reach a new point in life where all is more calm and secure. Indeed, river imagery is consistent with escaping from or to a station in life where a character wasn’t at the beginning of the work. Furthermore, writers use the power of the river metaphor to demonstrate changes throughout time; time itself may be portrayed as a mighty river.

For example, the famous American poet, Langston Hughes (1902-1967), used river metaphors to describe the state of people of color throughout time in his 1921 work: The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Earlier in literature, authors such as Mark Twain used rivers to illustrate an exit and re-entering into society. Of course, often a spiritual moment of self-recognition or a transformative event brings the character to the end of the journey, with a revitalized or ceased relationship with civilization. Overcoming boundaries, conquering borders, and rising beyond and through barriers to obtaining a goal is a frequent symbol of the river metaphor in literature. In fact, a re-awakening to freedom frequently is encountered.

Even today, the River Jordan is still used in gospel music to represent a “crossing” or as a representation of altering circumstances in life. The Nile River, Euphrates River, and the Congo River serve this purpose in some songs, too. Rivers are symbols of motion, movement, and eventual resolution in most works of literature and music. Below is a poem I wrote regarding our various rivers and how they influence our current existence throughout our lives. I took the history of one day in a person’s life and flowed with details. Enjoy: Timeless River. If you liked this poem, please feel free to leave comments in the section following this article. Thank you.

The South Branch of the Potomac River in Highland County, VA
The South Branch of the Potomac River in Highland County, VA | Source

Timeless Rivers

Stars droplets circling burning coffee cup,

Drowning and pandering my conscious stream,

Milk meandering away from center,

Stirring reality to be is a dream.

Water tumbled gravity of sky,

Focus cosmic dripping down to my space

Dams beckoning beavers homeward to build,

Dashed motion forward alternative place.

Traffic black hole stops light my horizon,

Sipping my soul into quantum affairs,

Politics pyromania on piers,

Event duality office upstairs.

Autos kayaking smoking out windows,

Racing to fall over false golden cliffs,

Current news washed lakes to bank of shoreline,

Meaning fishing understanding bait long drift.

The Little River near Zebulon, NC
The Little River near Zebulon, NC | Source

Math doesn’t count rapids swiftly enough,

Cosmic estuary DNA strands,

Strings universal water way shrinking,

Decks stacked above mouths shuffle our hands.

Effluent choked channels relax along rills,

Beds of galactic riparian forged,

Runoff source evaporate with eons,

Future maintains humanity will gorge.

Sagittarius A-Star hungers on,

Watershed everyday life flatters not,

Energy proverbial matter dark,

Final rivers surging to minute spot.

General memories ripple in me,

Relative time disappears in black holes,

Specific moments radiate the world,

Recycling body of river’s soul.

Have you encountered “river” metaphors in literature you have read?

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The PeeDee River in eastern South Carolina
The PeeDee River in eastern South Carolina | Source

Rivers of America

The United States has approximately two-hundred thousand rivers, with the Missouri River being the longest river in the country. The Missouri is a tributary of the largest river in America by water volume, the Mississippi, which flows to the Gulf of Mexico. Some other major rivers in the United States include: the Rio Grande, Colorado, Snake, and the James River. The Yellowstone River, in the western portion of the country, is the longest undammed river in the nation. Here is some information about the photos of the rivers used above:

  • Little River – Many rivers are called “little.” That could present some confusion. However, in this case, The Little River begins in the Piedmont of North Carolina, eventually joining the Neuse River near the town of Goldsboro, N.C. The Little River is a tributary of the Neuse River, a major river in North Carolina.
  • Pee Dee River – The Pee Dee River begins in the mountains of North Carolina and continues into South Carolina. For the first 200 or so miles, the Great Pee Dee River is known as the Yadkin River, starting in Blowing Rock, N.C. The river takes its name from a Native American tribe.
  • Potomac South River – This River is located in West Virginia extending to other states. Its headwaters are located in Virginia. The South branch of the Potomac joins with the North branch to form the Potomac River near the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.
  • Roanoke River – This River begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It flows southeast through northern North Carolina until it reaches the Albemarle Sound. Along the way, at least six lakes are formed from the Roanoke River.

Which one of these activities is your favorite at a river front?

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    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 2 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      Thanks, Nikki. I appreciate your kind comment.

      The respect is mutual.



    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 2 weeks ago from London

      Thanks Tim for your amazing poetry, loved reading it.An excellent piece of work.Keep it up.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 6 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      Of course, Poor Rich Guy, I will read your poem. Thank you for stopping by to read my work.



    • the poor rich guy profile image

      Srianshu Mahadas 6 weeks ago from India

      Well written Tim Truzy, you have an interesting style of poetry. I am still a rookie in poetry, so if you could check out my poetry and give some pointers, I would really appreciate it, my friend. I wrote a poem called " The Man Who Lived Forever!", check it out please...THANKS!

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 3 months ago from U.S.A.

      Thank you for honoring me with a read of my poetry, Ms. Dora. I appreciate it. May your day be peaceful and rewarding.


    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Your perspective on rivers encourage us to give them the attention and appreciation they deserve. Thank you.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 3 months ago from U.S.A.

      Thanks for the read, Mark. I appreciate your kind words.


    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 3 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Lovely poem about a universal topic. Good job.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 3 months ago from U.S.A.

      The universe moves in waves, vibrating energy impacting all of our perceptions. We are like particles, riding the waves in an endless river. This poem came about as I thought about the "butterfly effect," that supposed belief that every little action which happens, including the flapping of a butterfly's wing, is all interconnected.

      Steven Windwood sing "time is a river." Yes, we are constantly in motion. But in the end, we are not separate from our world or universe, we are important creatures in it.

      for this reason, from the smallest of instances to the grandest of moments, we should experience in all of our senses and abilities.