Today I stood outside the house in St Louis where T.S.Eliot spent his teenaged years. Then I saw the Mississippi.
Here are the lines from Eliot’s Dry Salvages about the great river.
I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god – sullen, untamed and intractable
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
The only a problem confronting the builder of bridges
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities – ever, however, implacable
Keeping his seasons, and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom
In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard
In the smell of grapes on the autumn table
And the evening circle in the winter gaslight