Algy woke up with a start, and realised why he had been dreaming of a soft sea foam blanket covering his legs


… And very soon, just like King Canute before him, Algy discovered that in fact he could not hold back the tide…

Fortunately, the sun was shining and Algy was just in the mood for a refreshing salt-water bath. But as the water foamed around him, Algy remembered the closing verses from Thackeray’s poem, and he suggests that if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you would do well to think of them too 🙂

          “Might I stay the sun above us, good sir Bishop?” Canute cried;
          “Could I bid the silver moon to pause upon her heavenly ride?
           If the moon obeys my orders, sure I can command the tide.

          "Will the advancing waves obey me, Bishop, if I make the sign?”
           Said the Bishop, bowing lowly, “Land and sea, my lord, are thine.”
           Canute turned towards the ocean—"Back!“ he said, "thou foaming brine.

          "From the sacred shore I stand on, I command thee to retreat;
           Venture not, thou stormy rebel, to approach thy master’s seat:
           Ocean, be thou still! I bid thee come not nearer to my feet!”

           But the sullen ocean answered with a louder, deeper roar,
           And the rapid waves drew nearer, falling sounding on the shore;
           Back the Keeper and the Bishop, back the king and courtiers bore.

           And he sternly bade them never more to kneel to human clay,
           But alone to praise and worship That which earth and seas obey:
           And his golden crown of empire never wore he from that day.
           King Canute is dead and gone: Parasites exist alway.

[Algy is quoting the final verses from the poem King Canute by the 19th century English satirical writer William Makepiece Thackeray.]

The tide was coming in fast and with considerable energy – it would be a very high tide today. Algy sat on the sand, fascinated by the surging foam produced by the waves as they raced up the beach. Like King Canute before him, Algy idly wondered whether he could bid the waves retreat, and hold back the tide…