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Poem by Robert Southey


The Ebb-Tide


    SLOWLY thy flowing tide
Came in, old Avon! Scarcely did mine eyes,
As watchfully I roamed thy greenwood-side,
    Perceive its gentle rise.

    With many a stroke and strong
The laboring boatmen upward plied their oars;
Yet little way they made, though laboring long
    Between thy winding shores.

    Now down thine ebbing tide
The unlabored boat falls rapidly along;
The solitary helmsman sits to guide,
    And sings an idle song.

    Now oer 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 emblemed 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 attained at last,
Thus from the summit of high Fortunes flood
    They ebb to ruin fast.

    Thus like thy flow appears
Times tardy course to manhoods envied stage;
Alas! how hurryingly the ebbing years
    Then hasten to old age!



Robert Southey

Poem Theme: Rivers

Robert Southey's other poems:
  1. For the Cenotaph at Ermenonville
  2. St. Bartholomews Day
  3. For a Tablet at Penshurst
  4. For a Monument in the Vale of Ewias
  5. For a Monument in the New Forest


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