Tuesday, 6 September 2011

I Have A Need For Water Near

I never lived this far from the ocean.


Searching my heart for its true sorrow,
This is the thing I find to be:
That I am weary of words and people,
Sick of the city, wanting the sea;

Wanting the sticky, salty sweetness
Of the strong wind and shattered spray;
Wanting the loud sound and the soft sound
Of the big surf that breaks all day.

Always before about my dooryard,
Marking the reach of the winter sea,
Rooted in sand and dragging drift-wood,
Straggled the purple wild sweet-pea;

Always I climbed the wave at morning,
Shook the sand from my shoes at night,
That now am caught beneath great buildings,
Stricken with noise, confused with light.

If I could hear the green piles groaning
Under the windy wooden piers,
See once again the bobbing barrels,
And the black sticks that fence the weirs,

If I could see the weedy mussels
Crusting the wrecked and rotting hulls,
Hear once again the hungry crying
Overhead, of the wheeling gulls,

Feel once again the shanty straining
Under the turning of the tide,
Fear once again the rising freshet,
Dread the bell in the fog outside,—

I should be happy,—that was happy
All day long on the coast of Maine!
I have a need to hold and handle
Shells and anchors and ships again!

I should be happy, that am happy
Never at all since I came here.
I am too long away from water.
I have a need of water near.

Edna St Vincent Millay

 People that build their houses inland,
People that buy a plot of ground  
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,  
Far from the sea-board, far from the sound
Of water sucking the hollow ledges,  
Tons of water striking the shore --  
What do they long for, as I long for  
One salt smell of the sea once more?   

People the waves have not awakened,  
Spanking the boats at the harbor's head,  
What do they long for, as I long for, 
--  Starting up in my inland bed,   

Beating the narrow walls, and finding 
 Neither a window nor a door,  
Screaming to God for death by drowning 
--  One salt taste of the sea once more? 
-- Edna St Vincent Millay

Missing the Sea

Something removed roars in the ears of this house,
Hangs its drapes windless, stuns mirrors
Till reflectons lack substance.

Some sounds like the gnashing of windmills ground
To a dead halt;
A deafening absence, a blow.

It hoops the valley, weighs this mountain,
Estranges gesture, pushes this pencil
Through a thick nothing now,

Freights cupboards with silence, folds sour laundry
Like the clothes of the dead left exactly
As the dead behaved by the beloved,

Incredulous, expecting occupancy.

Derek Walcott

Sea change
by Jane Verburg

Do you know what it’s like to live with the sea

in your hair,

inside your head, knitted into your sleep?

Its noiselessness, noisiness, tied to your fingertips,

its seaweed rolled in strandlines strung to your toes,

its thumbprint pebbles caught in the curve

of your turn,

its sea glass in your pockets,

its curlews lifting in wide ribbons wrapped in

the palm of your hand.

Do you? Do you? I do.


      NO matter what I say,
      All that I really love
      Is the rain that flattens on the bay,
      And the eel-grass in the cove;
      The jingle-shells that lie on the beach
      At the tide-line, and the trace
      Of higher tides along the beach:
      Nothing in this place.

      Edna St. Vincent Millay

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