“The tide rises, the tide falls, / The twilight darkens, the curlew calls”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a poet whose stellar reputation of the late 19th and early 20th Century is rather in eclipse, to say the least. No doubt his star will rise again. However, “The tide rises, the tide falls” is one of the more enigmatic, haunting poems I have come across. And again the curlew’s cry, here as perpetual as the tides and twilight. Another marker of what we have lost and what we will lose if the curlew’s cry goes silent.

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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