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"Where will all come home?"

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

When I was small, I memorized this poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. It still echoes in my mind:


"Dark brown is the river.

Golden is the sand.

It flows along for ever,

With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating, Castles of the foam, Boats of mine a-boating— Where will all come home?

On goes the river And out past the mill, Away down the valley, Away down the hill.


Away down the river, A hundred miles or more, Other little children Shall bring my boats ashore."


-Robert Louis Stevenson


As a child, I loved this poem for the imagery: the river. the boats. the imagination of it all.

I still love it for those reasons, but I also find the last line of the second verse wafting through my mind: "Where will all come home?" I picture myself as a boat on the river. I've never sailed this river of life before; I don't know what the next bend will bring or where the rapids are. The current carries me downstream; I can't go back to where I started. I keep going away. "Away down the valley. Away down the hill. Away down the river..."


And while I love the adventure - the "green leaves a-floating" and the "castles of the foam"; I wonder where all will "come home". More precisely, I wonder where I will come home.


The end of the poem, by no means an answer to my wonderings, is consoling. Although it may take "a hundred miles or more", the boats find mooring. Actually, the boats are found, by children who are probably delighted to find them (Please, dear reader, don't ask me who the children represent in the analogy). Ashore. The boats come ashore. I don't know how or when or what "ashore" looks like. But the thought is comforting.


What about you; are you adrift like a boat?

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