Posted by: Tom Triumph | March 25, 2009

25. The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A very sedate poem. Time moves forward, and yet as we age the world continues as it always has.

For this, I had students write the poem in their own words. This technique works with a lot of poems. It forces them to admit they do not know all of the vocabulary (i.e., curlew?). As they write out their own lines, the poem becomes clear to many of them. Part of it is in the “translation”, but I think spending a few intimate minutes with the words helps, too.

With that, a good discussion of why poets and writers do not just “say it” clearly. Why not just state a thesis? What is with the imagery? Mood-eeee.

Longfellow is another of the Fireside Poets that, as I age, I appreciate more. His name also brings lots of titters among the middle schoolers, and that can be amusing if you are in the mood for it.

The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveler hastens toward the town,
And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in 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 traveler to the shore.
And the tide rises, the tide falls.

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