Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

Avon, the River (Lower)

The Ebb-Tide

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)

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 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 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 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!