To The River

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1829)


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Fair river! in thy bright, clear flow
    Of crystal, wandering water,
Thou art an emblem of the glow
        Of beauty -- the unhidden heart --
        The playful maziness of art
  In old Alberto's daughter;

But when within thy wave she looks --
        Which glistens then, and trembles --
Why, then, the prettiest of brooks
        Her worshipper resembles;
For in my heart, as in thy stream,
    Her image deeply lies --
The heart which trembles at the beam
    Of her soul-searching eyes.


Alberto's daughter:
These lines long baffled commentators, who could find no well-known daughter of “old Alberto.” But Richard J. Lord pointed out what Poe must have had in mind: a charmingly playful young widow who did not hide her heart when she learned of the fatherly love borne her by an elderly physician named Alberto, but returned that love. The story is in the tenth novella of the first day of Boccaccio’s Decameron.
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