It is true that the rivers went nosing like swine,
Tugging at banks, until they seemed
Bland belly-sounds in somnolent troughs,
That the air was heavy with the breath of these swine,
The breath of turgid summer, and
Heavy with thunder’s rattapallax,
That the man who erected this cabin, planted
This field, and tended it awhile,
Knew not the quirks of imagery,
That the hours of his indolent, arid days,
Grotesque with this nosing in banks,
This somnolence and rattapallax,
Seemed to suckle themselves on his arid being,
As the swine-like rivers suckled themselves
While they went seaward to the sea-mouths.
Wallace Stevens, 1879 – 1955.
Photograph: Cabins along the Skagway (or Skaguay) river in Alaska, early 20th century. Bates Peak in background. Courtesy of G. Waldo Brown and Nathan Haskell Dole. Author unknown.