Time And Tide

A poem by George MacDonald

As I was walkin on the strand,
I spied ane auld man sit
On ane auld black rock; and aye the waves
Cam washin up its fit.
His lips they gaed as gien they wad lilt,
But o' liltin, wae's me, was nane!
He spak but an owercome, dreary and dreigh,
A burden wha's sang was gane:
"Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns;
They playt thegither i' the gloamin's hush:
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And pairtit the twa wi' a glint and a gush."

"What can the auld man mean," quod I,
"Sittin o' the auld black rock?
The tide creeps up wi' a moan and a cry,
And a hiss 'maist like a mock!
The words he mutters maun be the en'
O' some weary auld-warl' sang--
A deid thing floatin aboot in his brain,
'At the tide 'ill no lat gang!"
"Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns;
They playt thegither i' the gloamin's hush:
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And pairtit the twa wi' a glint and a gush."

"Hoo pairtit it them, auld man?" I said;
"Was't the sea cam up ower strang?
Oh, gien thegither the twa o' them gaed
Their pairtin wasna lang!
Or was are ta'en, and the ither left--
Ane to sing, are to greit?
It's sair, I ken, to be sae bereft--
But there's the tide at yer feet!"
"Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns,
And they playt thegither i' the gloamin's hush:
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And pairtit the twa wi' a glint and a gush."

"Was't the sea o' space wi' its storm o' time
That wadna lat things bide?
But Death's a diver frae heavenly clime
Seekin ye neth its tide,
And ye'll gaze again in ither's ee,
Far abune space and time!"
Never ae word he answered me,
But changed a wee his rime:
"Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns,
And they playt thegither upo' the shore;
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And pairtit the twa for evermore."

"May be, auld man, 'twas the tide o' change
That crap atween the twa?
Hech! that's a droonin fearsome strange,
Waur, waur nor are and a'!"
He said nae mair. I luikit, and saw
His lips they couldna gang:
Death, the diver, had ta'en him awa,
To gie him a new auld sang.
Robbie and Jeanie war twa bonnie bairns,
And they playt thegither upo' the shore:
Up cam the tide and the mune and the sterns,
And souft them awa throu a mirksome door!

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