The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

by 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 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 traveler to the shore,
And the tide rises, the tide falls

Summary of The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

  • Popularity of “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls”: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a famous American poet, and educator wrote this poem. It is a wonderful literary piece, published in the 19th century. The poem is known for its simplicity and for having an artistic expression. It was composed to capture the beauty of the eternal tides, which rise and fall endlessly on the seashore.
  • “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls” As a Representative of Life: This poem presents the perspective of an old traveler who is standing on the verge of death. The poet presents the never-ending rise and fall of the tides in contrast with the finite journey of the traveler to show the mortality of life. The constant rise and fall of the tides emphasize the reoccurring cycle of life in the universe, where people are born, go through different phases of life and then silently leave. Also, time washes away the spots of their existence. However, what stays in the minds of the readers is the impacts of the transience of life and eternity of the tides.
  • Major Themes in “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls”: Man, the natural world and mortality are some of the major themes. The poem comprises emotions of a traveler, who witnesses the constant rise and fall of the tide, which symbolically shows the progression of life. The rising signifies the beginning of life, and the falling tides signify the end of mortal life.

 Analysis of Literary Devices in “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls”

Literary devices are tools the writers use to create meanings in their texts to enhance the poems or stories and connect the readers with the real message of the text. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also reveals his artistic skill in this poem using various literary devices.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound /i/ in “The tide rises, the tide falls”.
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to non-human things. For example, “But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls”. “Sea” in the seventh line is personified as if the sea is human that can call someone. The second example is in line eight where he has personified sea waves, “The little waves, with their soft, white hands” as if the waves have hands.
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ in “Darkness settles on roofs and walls”.
  4. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects different in nature. For example, “twilight” is the metaphor of old age or the final days of mortal life. The extended metaphor of ‘rising’ and ‘falling’ tide is compared to life and death.
  5. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. Similarly, “sea” is the symbol of darkness and “footprints” are the symbol of life’s achievements.
  6. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “The tide rises, the tide falls”, “The little waves, with their soft, white hands” and “Efface the footprints in the sands.”
  7. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sounds of /th/ and /s/ in “But the sea, the sea in the darkness calls” and the sound of /w/ in “The little waves, with their soft, white hands”.

Analysis of Poetic Devices in “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem; each consists of five lines.
  2. Quintain: Quintain is a five lined stanza. There are three quintains in this poem.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire poem is AABBA.
  4. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. The examples of end rhyme are, “calls/falls”, “brown/town” and “hands/sands.”
  5. Repetition: There is a repetition of the line, “The tide rises, the tide falls,” which has created a musical quality in the poem.
  6. Refrain: The lines that are repeated at some distance in the poems are called refrain. The line, “The tide rises, the tide falls” is repeated with the same words, it has become a refrain as it has been repeated in all three stanzas of the poem.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used when describing any personal experience of visiting the seashore. These could also be used when describing the beauty of the natural world.

“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”