The lyrical side

 Since its launch more than a year ago, this blog has explored contamination, purification, technology, flood control, water power, the economics of ice, irrigation and other human connections to fresh water.

Rarely addressed in all this expression have been the lyrical or spiritual dimensions of water in the human experience.

But of course water can and does stir the soul. A particular image of it can stop you in your tracks and lift the heart – one example being the accompanying photo of Amen Lake in northeast central Minnesota that was taken by one of my brothers, Ned Rousmaniere.  

His photo is included in a collection of water images that’s stored elsewhere on this site.

Then there’s written expression, one example of which appears below.

It’s “Water” – a short piece of free verse by Ralph Waldo Emerson in the middle of the 19th century.

The poem is about material things, to be sure, not least the physical sensation of water and the potential of water to do harm. It’s also about the character of water and its relationship to humans. Ultimately, it’s about Nature.

The poem, like the photo of the lake, can cause one to stop and contemplate water unhurriedly, and be thankful for the experience.


The water understands
Civilization well;
It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
Elegantly destroy.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson




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