Thursday, September 1, 2016


Monterey, California - 2001
Does the tide know what year it is?

On March 6th of this year, The Writer’s Almanac featured this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (And can’t you just hear a child, about to recite one of Longfellow’s poems, give the title and the poet’s whole name: “…by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.” They are so proud to have memorized his whole name, much less the poem.) I’d never before had the pleasure to read this poem of his. It speaks to me of the relentless passage of time and tides. It could speak of any time, even today, except for that one word, hostler, that gives it a place in a time long ago.

 The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.

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