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The Tide Rises The Tide Falls Poem English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1028 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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At some point during Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's lifetime he was known as the most popular and widely read American poet in the world. Despite the fact that "his reputation today is greatly diminished, a portion of his work is still respected by critics, is enjoyed by ordinary readers, and stands as a permanent addition to literature and folklore" (McGeagh). At the ripe age of 72, just three years before his death, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls." Similar to an earlier poem, written by Longfellow, titled "Psalm of Life," he writes of footprints and water, symbolizing life and the passing of time (McGeagh). "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls" conveys Longfellow's accepting and calm attitude towards death. By analyzing "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls," the theme that human life is temporary and the cycles of the natural world will continue to the end of time is evident in the….. (HELP)

Before analyzing the poem, the title of the poem, "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls," conveys a peaceful feeling. At first glance, the title gives the reader a feeling of simplicity and serenity; however, the poem can also seem a bit sad and melancholy.

When paraphrasing "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls," the first stanza reveals an unknown traveler who is walking quickly towards town at nightfall while the tide is constantly rising and falling. In the second stanza, "Darkness" is blanketing the "roofs and walls" of the town (Line 6). Small waves are removing the footprints that the traveller left in the sand while the tide continues to rise and fall. In the final stanza, night passes and morning arrives, but the traveller who was seen the night before is never going to return again. Despite this fact, the tide will continue to rise and fall.

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While analyzing the connotation of this poem, it becomes apparent that throughout the poem, the same line, "And the tide rises, the tide falls," is repeated four separate times (Line 5, 10, 15). By doing this, Longfellow emphasizes the reoccurring cycle of life. The repetition of this line "helps to create the impression of an unchanging natural world" (The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls). Furthermore, because the last line of every stanza is same, the rhythm flows well throughout the entire poem. Longfellow uses personification when he writes about "The little waves, with their soft, white hands" that "Efface the footprints in the sand". The author sets the mood by using high diction that pertains to the ocean, which is associated with serenity and tranquility. One of the main symbols used in this poem is the traveller's footprints. When the traveller walks along the beach, the evidence of his passage is shown by the footprints that are left in the sand.  When the tide rises during the night, not only does it erase the footprints, but it also erases any evidence of the traveller's actions.  Therefore the footprints symbolize life, which correlates to the fact that nature is a continuous cycle while human life is forever changing. The speaker uses sea as the symbol for as; "the sea in the darkness calls"(Line 7).

Longfellow's attitude towards the poem, "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls'" is very accepting. Longfellow writes about his acceptance of death and the fact that he, as well as everyone else, will die someday. Longfellow's tone in this poem is simple and unemotional. However, the overall atmosphere is depressing and melancholy. This is important due to the fact that this poem was written during Longfellow's last years. The simple but straightforward title reinforces the tone of the poem. "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls" is will with the sound of the waves, the rhythm of the poem reflects the slow swaying of the tides and a semi-melancholic tone pervades the poem.

A major shift in "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls" happens when Longfellow writes that the morning comes "but nevermore returns the traveller to the shore" and the tide continues to rise and fall. This conveys that although the traveller is no longer alive, life continues to happen. This also shows that "nature is indifferent to fate" because the sun still rises and the tide still goes in and out (Overview:" The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls").

After analyzing the poem the title conveys the entire atmosphere of the poem, which is somber and quiet. The repeated lines in this poem, "And the tide rise, the tide falls," are where Longfellow has embedded his theme, implying that time and nature will continue even after death. Longfellow is making a comment about life and how it is moving forward, and although death is a part of that cycle. "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls," is about the progression of time and death. However, this progression is not something to be fearful of, but to be simply accepted.

Drawing close to the end of Longfellow's life he seems to show a beleif that life and everything that has occurred during one's life is worthless because the sea will inevitable wipe the world's memory clean. He seems to believe that everything one accomplishes in one's lifetime is worthless. After analyzing "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls," the theme that human life is temporary and the cycles of the natural world will continue to the end of time is evident from the……..(CONCLUSION HELP???)

"The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls"

By Aarika Rice

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. 5

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. 10

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. 15


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