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Half halting, as in doubt,
Creeping, creeping, the tide goes out,
Oft breaks, impatient of delay,
And oft returns a little way
To kiss the old gray rocks, and pour
Its largess on the sand once more,
So the tide goes out


The slender grasses rank
Reach trembling fingers down the bank,
And cling the helpless mosses, when
The pitying water turns again;
And the forsaken cliffs look down
Upon the sands left bare and brown
When the tide goes out.


To hear a far-off sound
It listens close along the ground;
A call from the resistless sea,
A voice of dread and mystery;
Seaward the under-currents set,
Longing is stronger than regret,
And the tide goes out.


Whatever life it be
Hath heard the summons toward the sea,
Nor dread nor tenderness can stay
When once the ocean calls away;
Though every parting wave make moan
To leave the barren shore alone
When the tide goes out.