The River

We didn’t see the upstream stretch
From source cascades in precipiced gorge
With teetering schloss improbably perched
Where gaining name the Rhein goes forth.


At Bodensee we make our start
The German Konstance Swiss surrounds
The Rhein leaves lake a river free
We follow on to Basel bound.


Past cobbled medieval streets
And houses Swiss or German styled
The river flows unflustered by
The borders Bonaparte prescribed.


Exchanging Swiss for Alsace French
The river waters crop and vine
The Riesling and the Pinot noir
At Strasbourg human rights enshrined.


In row on row in ordered rank
The poplars and the plane trees grow
And shed their pollen on the bank
And shade us onward as we go.


Rhein, Rhin or Rijn it matters not
Canal and river share the name
Cohabit on the valley floor
With ditch and dyke the two are tamed.


Innumerable swans glide by
Past nesting stork, Egyptian geese
And cormorant and heron dive
Moorhen, cootes and ducks at peace.



June 2016

It’s swirling waters build and surge
The turbines whine and power flows
One station generates its all
And downstream yet another comes.


Another use mankind has made
The water source for industries
The cooling towers of nuclear power
Enormous barges glide downstream.


At Rudesheim a second gorge
Begins its tight constrictioning
A road and rail tight corridor
The river controls everything.


At Koln the river wide once more
Through Leverkusen’s industry
Contained by dyke to hold its floods
To Arnhem’s dreadful history.


The Neckar, Main then Mosel merge
The Rhein engorged by Seig and Kahn
The Rhur at Duisburg adds its weight
The Lippe the last to swell the flow.


But Holland splits the mighty Rijn
The IJssel north to IJsselmeer
The Nederrijn and Lek flow west
And south the Waal flows to the sea.


We didn’t see the upstream stretch
From Bodensee we caught the flow
And followed where the river went
Till near the sea we let it go.