The Secret Tide

QUICK as the words a man must scribble down,
Catching a thought, and called, and out the door,
Out of the house, maybe, and out of the town,
Or life, and never the time for saying more,
I thought and wrote that man, man is a shore
Where lifts and falls and breaks a secret tide.
He waits. He works. The hours and minutes pour
Heavy upon the hard ribs under his side.
What thoughts no other living mind could guess
Batter his brain. The winds of history blow.
Nightly the star-flame brightens wilderness.
Daily the sunlit air in flood or flow
Shadows him where he walks and while he stands.
Around and near him, men as brave and small,
Who have, like him, no more than heart and hands,
Think to rebuild their ever-wasting wall
Against a sea that a king in vain denied.
Quick as the words a man must leave, or none,
‘The secret tide,’ I wrote, ‘the secret tide.’
The days that end with work but well-begun;
Terror that tries, and fails, and tries again;
Unrest, passion, and care, that make us men;
And hope, and love, and age — ‘the secret tide,‘
I wrote, while round me surged the secret tide.