Introduction

The River by Caroline Ann Bowles appears to be a rather simple poem describing the journey of a river as it flows. However, when one looks at it deeply, it appears that the poetess is secondarily comparing the stages of a river with the life phases of a human. 

The poem consists of 20 lines that have been divided into 4 stanzas. The rhyme is ABCCB ADEED AFGGF AHIIH

Stanza 1

River, river, little river!
Bright you sparkle on your way;
O’er the yellow pebbles dancing,
Through the flowers and foliage glancing,
Like a child at play.

The poetess addresses the river and calls it little. The river is sparkling and dancing as it flows over the yellow pebbles. The river passes through the flowers and foliage and is compared to a child that is playing. This implies that the river is joyful and lively like a child who plays.

Stanza 2

River, river! swelling river!
On you rush through rough and smooth;
Louder, faster, brawling, leaping,
Over rocks, by rose-banks, sweeping
Like impetuous youth.

The river is now bigger and less gentle as it brawls and leaps through smooth and rough surfaces. The second stanza illustrates the river to be acting as an impetuous youth, who is driven by zest and acts without much thought. The growth in age becomes clear in this stanza.

Stanza 3

River, river! brimming river!
Broad and deep, and still as time;
Seeming still, yet still in motion,
Tending onward to the ocean,
Just like mortal prime.

The river appears to be brimming, which is a resemblance to a person maturing and someone who has reached their full potential. This person is wise and calm. “Seeming still, yet still in motion”, implies that although it may appear still, the river is moving towards the ocean, its destination, just like a person working in silence to achieve their goal.

Stanza 4

River, river! headlong river!
Down you dash into the sea, _
Sea that line hath never sounded,
Sea that sail hath never rounded,
Like eternity.

The poem concludes with the river dashing into the sea, head first. The last stanza is basically when the river meets the ocean and man enters a stage that has never been explored before, eternity. This probably means that man has gained immortality and is now in a spiritual space.