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When for me the silent oar

When for me the silent oar. Lucy Larcom* (1824-1893). Published in Larcom’s Poems (Boston, 1869), where it was entitled ‘Across the River’. It began: When for me the silent oar   Parts the Silent River, And I stand upon the shore   Of the strange Forever, Shall I miss the loved and known? Shall I vainly seek mine own? The poem is a meditation on a problem that exercised many people in Larcom’s time: shall we meet and know our loved-ones in heaven? The publication of Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859, ten years before the publication of Larcom’s poem, and the ‘Higher Criticism’ emanating from the Tübingen school in Germany, had combined to cast doubt on the old certainties, as Alfred...

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