The poet declares that he sings "songs of continued years" which, like rivers, flow toward the sea. Life's new currents will soon merge with the streams of death. These currents flowing from the poet's self will join "the mystic ocean." The poet collects "vasting" from "the sea of Time" while the shells murmur the music of eternity.
This poem contains many of the themes of Whitman's poetry — his treatment of time and the problems of life, death, and eternity. The flow of the rivulets aptly suggests the spontaneous growth and unpremeditated movement of many of the poems included under the title Autumn Rivulets.