Life In John Longfellow's The Tide Rises

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Prominent English naturalist Charles Darwin once said, “A man who dares to waste one hour of his time has not discovered the value of life.” Darwin’s meaningful words emphasize the importance of time in one’s life. In this day and age, society does not understand that life is valuable, every minute, second, microsecond, and nanosecond. Life is something meant to be lived in contentment, something to be lived to the fullest. Life is replete with opportunities, as well as valuable lessons that help build a person’s character. In literature, authors are given the chance to teach readers about the core principles and values of life, which are represented through a myriad of different themes. In particular, in the poem “The Tide Rises” by Henry…show more content…
Longfellow clearly describes the setting as by the seashore, which brings along the thought of life. One line says, “The twilight darkens, the curlew calls” (Longfellow 2). At first, the setting is introduced as during twilight at the seashore, while a curlew, a type of sea bird, calls. Later in the poem, the eerie references to when “darkness settles on roofs and walls” (Longfellow 6) and to twilight help illustrate the setting, while also creating a negative connotation. These specific examples connect to the concept of life and death. Also, in line two, “the curlew calls” (Longfellow 2) as the evening is beginning to darken. The reader can infer from this line that the bird is saying “goodbye,” which is a form of foreshadowing. This sets the scene that it is the end, the end to a life that will still go on, as life just goes on. Additionally, while some scenes may seem morose and dismal, others are gentle and peaceful, just like the beginning of a new life. As an example, in the last stanza, “The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls” (Longfellow 11). Unlike the previous lines of desolation, this line in “The Tide Rises” is rather jolly and delightful. The early morning is described by the pleasant horses, bringing out a positive connotation. This part of the poem signifies the fresh beginning of a new life, after a sorrowful ending. This line best delineates the theory that life goes on, with multiple ups and downs. In closing, these numerous examples of setting in “The Tide Rises” help construct the theme of life goes

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