10 of the Best Poems about Rivers and Streams

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Are these the best river-themed poems?

Many great towns and cities are built on the riverside, since fresh water is one of the basic human necessities. So it’s little surprise that poets have often waxed lyrical about the life-giving properties of rivers and streams. Here are ten of the best river poems.

Edmund Spenser, Prothalamion. ‘Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song’ is a line probably more familiar to readers as a line from T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, but Eliot borrowed (stole?) the line from Spenser, and this poem which celebrates the double marriage of two pairs of aristocrats. The poem begins with a description of the Thames, where Spenser finds two beautiful maidens who are due to be married – it’s these opening lines about the Thames which earn this piece of Elizabethan lyricism its place in this list of the best river poems.


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