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themes: strange shores

 

with poetry about the sea, the harbour and the waves..., with paintings, pictures and stories...


Strange Shores

On black as tar steel cables all the derricks
Have hoisted up the night above sea and harbour.
The cries of the seagulls now a-slumber on
the water, have been replaced by the shrill
shrieks of
girls, who dart out to tig lads in the harbour
laden with sea-salt and foreign tongues, the mild wind,
as dutifully as a bum-boat, sails down
through the waterways of the port, along the quays,
where the Houdinis of the merchant shipping
are quick to toss off the chains of the long, long swell,
And, winding through dark lanes towards dead-end hearts,
go off on the spree with the odours of leather,
lavender, garlic, gasoline, tobacco.
The busy wharfs and the tired tail-end of summer,
The derricks and the bints fail to find eachother:
There's a sailor, landlubber still, searching here. I.

I rove for hours through this labyrinth of docks,
drinking in the sailor's pubs: under the cover
of the night and neon, rosy women are
sailing in the bunks of the wreck, called The World
(With pimps on the leaking pumps that scoop away
the tears) The hollowed-out boat of the moon
sails out
So coolly between the southern continents,
which have marked with crosses on the blue marine charts
of my memory treasures with the sleeping
names of harbours, with the throats of screeching
sea-birds,
The grey-green eyes of a passed away mother.
Yes, I know. All ports are like other ports. And so
are the silver-stealing women.
Come my dear,
one of them calls. They all say that, everywhere.
No, home is where I'd rather be, even for
just one night and I search and wait for a taxi.

James Brockway and Tsjębbe Hettinga
From 'Strange Shores', publisher Frysk & Frij


                           The Nile by David Roberts (1839)

Fisher Lassies

The wind blows up from the nor'west waves,
Chill, salt, and strong from its ocean caves;
The sea glows yet in the sunset's hue
And the hollowing sky is a cup of blue.

But the sentinel rocks on the headland's right
Are black and grim in the waning light;
And, out in the west, a lone, white star
keeps its steadfast watch o'er the harbor bar.

Over the waves where the red light floats
To the glooming shore come the fishing boats,
And the girls who wait for their coming in
Are something to wave and wind akin.

Born of the union of sky and sea,
Joyous, lithe-limbed, as the sea-bird free:
Fearless in danger and true as steel,
To friend unswerving, to lover leal.

No care is theirs - all the world they know
Is the sky above and the sea below.
Light o'er the waters their laughter floats,
As they wait on the sand for the fishing boats.

Brown are they, yet the tint that glows
In their cheeks has the hue of a crimson rose,
And never brighter or clearer eyes
Watched across the bar 'neath the sunset skies.

When the wearisome toil of the day is done
And the boats come in with the setting sun,
Sweethearts and brothers, tall and tanned,
Bend to the oars with a firmer hand.

Each one knows at the landing dim
Someone is waiting to welcome him.
Over the harbor the twilight creeps,
The stars shine out in the sky's clear deeps.

From far sea-caves come a hollow roar
And the girls have gone from the darkened shore;
Forthe crimson has died from the sky-line's bound
And the boats are all in from the fishing ground.

M.L. Cavendish (Lucy Maud Montgomery), 1896?

 

The Harbour

Passing through huddles and ugly walls
by doorways where women
looked from their hunger-deep eyes,
haunted with shadows of hunger-hands,
out from the huddles and ugly walls,
I came sudden, at the city's edge,
on a blue burst of loake,
Long lake waves breaking under the sun
on a spray-flung curve of shore;
and a fluttering storm of gulls,
masses of great gray wings
and flying white bellies
veering and wheeling free in the open

Carl Sandburg, 1912

 

Lofoten

Lofoten (Northern Sami: Lofuohta) is an archipelago and a traditional district in the county of Nordland, Norway

 

Nyksund

Fishing villages often rise and decline.....

  

  

  

  

 

 

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; -- on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!

Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The sea of faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold, 1867


And death shall have no dominion (1933)

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)


 

Splinters
(For My Father)

You picked splinters
with a pin each day
from under blackened fingernails;
shreds of metal
from the shipyard grime,
minute memories of days swept by:
the dusty remnants of a life
spent in the shadow of the sea;
the tears in your shattered eyes
at the end of work.
And your hands were strong,
so sensitive and capable
of building boats
and nursing roses;
a kind and gentle man
who never hurt a soul,
the sort of quiet knackered man
who built a nation.
Dad, I watched your ashes float away
down to the ocean bed
and in each splinter
I saw your caring eyes
and gracious smile.

I think of your strong silence every day
and I am full of you,
the waves you scaled,
and all the sleeping Tyneside streets
you taught me to dance my fleeting feet along.

When I fly, you are with me.
I see your fine face
in sun-kissed clouds
and in the gold ring on my finger,
and in the heaving crowd on Saturday,
and in the lung of Grainger Market,
and in the ancient breath
of our own Newcastle.

Keith Armstrong


 

Soul Ferry 

High and dry upon the shingle lies the fisher's boat to-night;
From his roof-beam dankly drooping, raying phosphorescent light,
Spectral in its pale-blue splendour, hangs his heap of scaly nets,
And the fisher, lapt in slumber, surge and seine alike forgets.

Hark! there comes a sudden knocking, and the fisher starts from sleep,
As a hollow voice and ghostly bids him once more seek the deep;
Wearily across his shoulder flingeth he the ashen oar,
And upon the beach descending finds a skiff beside the shore.

'Tis not his, but he must enter -- rocking on the waters dim,
Awful in their hidden presence, who are they that wait for him?
Who are they that sit so silent, as he pulleth from the land --
Nothing heard save rumbling rowlock, wave soft-breaking on the sand?

Chill adown the tossing channel blows the wailing, wand'ring breeze,
Lonely in the murky midnight, mutt'ring mournful memories, --
Summer lands where once it brooded, wrecks that widows' hearts have wrung --
Swift the dreary boat flies onwards, spray, like rain, around it flung.

On a pebbled strand it grateth, ghastly cliffs around it loom,
Thin and melancholy voices faintly murmur through the gloom;
Voices only, lipless voices, and the fisherman turns pale,
As the mother greets her children, sisters landing brothers hail.

Lightened of its unseen burden, cork-like rides the rocking bark,
Fast the fisherman flies homewards o'er the billows deep and dark;
THAT boat needs no mortal's mooring -- sad at heart he seeks his bed,
For his life henceforth is clouded -- he hath piloted the Dead!

Richard Rowe

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