Sunday, August 22, 2010

A wet sheet and a flowing sea

    A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
    A wind that follows fast,
    And fills the white and rustling sail,
    And bends the gallant mast--
    And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
    While, like the eagle free,
    Away the good ship flies, and leaves
    Old England on the lee.

    "O for a soft and gentle mind!"
    I heard a fair one cry;
    But give to me the snoring breeze
    And white waves heaving high--
    And white waves heaving high, my boys,
    The good ship tight and free;
    The world of waters is our home,
    And merry men are we.

    There's tempest in yon hornèd moon,
    And lightning in yon cloud;
    And hark the music, mariners!
    The wind is piping loud--
    The wind is piping loud, my boys,
    The lightning flashing free;
    While the hollow oak our palace is,
    Our heritage the sea.

    -Allan Cunningham

Last year I was privileged to spend a few blessed months living on a sailboat with my good friend and captain, Joshua Falconer. Joshua had called this hollow oak his palace for four years, while he studied how to make books and what to write in them at UCSB. I parted ways with our wide-winged bark this January, and Joshua followed suit this past week to continue his studies in Santa Fe.

We'll both miss the salt air, the roar of the breakers, the call of the gulls. The cozy evenings spent philosophizing by lantern light while the raging storm outside seemingly drowned out the rest of the world. The breaking of clear mornings, offering the thrill of adventure just outside the safety of the harbor.

Joshua (r) and my brother Adam enjoy an evening meal

Joshua, if the day comes when once again you sail west,
and I hope it may,
send me a pigeon straight away,
and I will swab your decks once more!

    TO sea, to sea! The calm is o'er;
    The wanton water leaps in sport,
    And rattles down the pebbly shore;
    The dolphin wheels, the sea-cow snorts,
    And unseen mermaids' pearly song
    Comes bubbling up, the weeds among.
    Fling broad the sail, dip deep the oar:
    To sea, to sea! The calm is o'er.

    To sea, to sea! our wide-winged bark
    Shall billowy cleave its sunny way,
    And with its shadow, fleet and dark,
    Break the caved Tritons' azure day,
    Like mighty eagle soaring light
    O'er antelopes on Alpine height.
    The anchor heaves, the ship swings free,
    The sails swell full. To sea, to sea!

    -Thomas Lovell Beddoes

Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.

- Galadriel, Lady of Lórien

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