Like Man’s Desire

Continuing with my comments about rivers and creativity, one of the songs in my songbook is entitled Like Man’s Desire This River Is. (See notes below.) The song is about May River, a Lowcountry, tidal river in Bluffton, South Carolina. The town was built on the bluffs that overlook the river. The lyrics to my song are based on a poem written by my mother, F. R. Rossi, in 1934 when she lived there:

Like man’s desire this river is,
it ebbs and flows, and thins and grows,
it swiftly comes and goes,
draining all it knows.

The river turns and follows back
its time worn, muddy track,
sweeping creek and cove,
with water like the caress of love.

Like man’s desire this river is,
it floods the marsh,
and presses land,
it traces curves of golden sand,
yearning for the sea.

The river turns and follows back
Its time worn, muddy track,
sweeping creek and cove,
with water like the caress of love.

Like man’s desire this river is,
it ebbs and flows, and thins and grows,
it swiftly comes and goes,
draining all it knows, yearning for the sea.

Tidal rivers are inland rivers that go to the sea. They experience tides just as the ocean does. Their “brackish”water is a mix of fresh and salt water. Their tides and “moods” are an integral part of life in towns that are close to, but not on, the sea. I, like many composers before me, have attempted to convey the feelings about nature that are referenced in the lyrics, in this case the tidal movement of the river itself. The comparison of rivers and human emotion is obvious, and has been used many times in poetry and literature. The interesting thing about this poem and song is the explicit and intimate connection made between human desire and the ebb and flow of a local, tidal river.

The sheet music for Like Man’s Desire This River Is can be viewed and purchased as a single songsheet on jsgraves.musicaneo.com. My songbook, A Star Fell and Other Songs, can be purchased on this site, astarfell.com, by going to the Songs in my Songbook tab.

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