The moral of the poem "The Three Fates" by Rosemary Dobson may well be "be careful what you wish for," for wishes and pleas do not always turn out as one expects or desires.
The poem opens with an image of a drowning man. He cries out to the three Fates, three sisters in Greek mythology who are in charge of determining the span and course of people's lives. The man immediately realizes his mistake. He asks for something humans were never meant to have, namely everlasting life in the world, and his request is fulfilled in a horrible way.
The drowning man shoots out of the water and onto the shore, but he now does everything backwards. He is still alive, but time has reversed for him. He puts on his clothes backwards and goes home backwards. His life is now agony. He writes poetry backwards, brushes away "tears that had not yet fallen," and watches his beloved grow younger and younger until she is gone.
Then, even more horribly, the man's beloved and his house and even the daylight suddenly disappear, and he finds himself drowning in the river. The man begins the process of living backwards all over again, and it appears that this cycle will go on forever. Indeed, the man's request is answered, but not in a way he would ever have desired, for he is caught in a cycle of misery.