The Melancholy Mississippi

I’ve been reading Early Days on the Western Slope of Colorado and came across this reference to the Mississippi River, which reminded me of a new Alison Krauss recording, River in the Rain, also about the Mississippi.

From the book:

…[E]ventually, we reached that broad expanse at the outlet of the Ohio and were rocking on the broad bosom of the Father of Waters, the Mississippi.  Melancholy has marked the Mississippi for her own.  Visit its shores anywhere and a weird mournful atmosphere mellows the scene.  One thinks of the myriads of mound builders and Indians who are dead, and of the many white people who ought to be.  For scores and scores of miles the unending low shores, just mere nothing covered with willows.  Soft maples so thick that none ever becomes a tree make monotonous mounds of foliage behind the willows.

I’ve seen the Mississippi and it is impressive, powerful, and almost epic in our American lore.  At the very least, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn come to mind, as well as gay steamboats, and loggers.  Although I wouldn’t have thought to portray the river that way, I agree, one does get a sense of melancholy when experiencing it, or at least I have.

Early Days On The Western Slope of Colorado (1913), is a first person account of the experiences of Sidney Jocknick between 1870 and 1883 when he migrated from Washington D.C. to Colorado.  It is the kind of history I like to read.


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