William Gray wrote:
> 1. An irony that these two things can go together -- a river with no ill intentions, just a river, perhaps even a beautiful river, but one with a "cargo" of tragedies. The river is the unwitting bearer of things ill done, and done to others' harm.
[From distant memory]
And them that totes them is soon forgotten,
But Old Man River, that Old Man River,
He just keep rolling along.
But I'm still skeptical of any link between the river's action here and
things "done to others' harm." That passage applies not to the world
"out there" but to the poet's own memories. It is self-criticism (or at
least self-centered). The memories are the poet's memories of his own
life and its twists and turns. He is carrying a cargo of unappeasable
Also your construal of the line could account for "dead Negroes," but
then you ignore the chicken coops and cows.