The Ebb Tide

by Robert Southey


          Slowly thy flowing tide
Came in, old Avon! scarcely did mine eyes,
As watchfully I roam’d thy green-wood side,
          Perceive its gentle rise.
          With many a stroke and strong
The labouring boatmen upward plied their oars,
Yet little way they made, though labouring long
           Between they winding shores.
           Now down thine ebbing tide
The unlabour’d boat falls rapidly along;
The solitary helm’s-man sits to guide,
            And sings an idle song.
            Now o’er the rocks that lay
So silent late, the shallow current roars;
Fast flow thy waters on their seaward way
             Through wider-spreading shores.
              Avon! I gaze and know
The lesson emblem’d in thy varying way;
It speaks of human joys that rise so slow,
              So rapidly decay.
              Kingdoms which long have stood,
And slow to strength and power attain’d at last,
Thus from the summit of high fortune’s flood
              They ebb to ruin fast.
               Thus like thy flow appears
Time’s tardy course to manhood’s envied stage;
Alas! How hurryingly the ebbing years
                Then hasten to old age!
Westbury, 1799.
Robert Southey | Classic Poems

The Battle of Bleinheim ] Gooseberry-Pie ] The Old Man's Comforts ] [ The Ebb Tide ] The Inchcape Rock ]






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