Song for All Seas, All Ships
2 Flaunt out O sea your separate flags of nations! Flaunt out visible as ever the various ship-signals! But do you reserve especially for yourself and for the soul of man one flag above all the rest, A spiritual woven signal for all nations, emblem of man elate above death, Token of all brave captains and all intrepid sailors and mates, And all that went down doing their duty, Reminiscent of them, twined from all intrepid captains young or old, A pennant universal, subtly waving all time, o'er all brave sailors, All seas, all ships.
Song for All Seas, All Ships
1 To-day a rude brief recitative, Of ships sailing the seas, each with its special flag or ship-signal, Of unnamed heroes in the ships—of waves spreading and spreading far as the eye can reach, Of dashing spray, and the winds piping and blowing, And out of these a chant for the sailors of all nations, Fitful, like a surge. Of sea-captains young or old, and the mates, and of all intrepid sailors, Of the few, very choice, taciturn, whom fate can never surprise nor death dismay. Pick'd sparingly without noise by thee old ocean, chosen by thee, Thou sea that pickest and cullest the race in time, and unitest nations, Suckled by thee, old husky nurse, embodying thee, Indomitable, untamed as thee. (Ever the heroes on water or on land, by ones or twos appearing, Ever the stock preserv'd and never lost, though rare, enough for seed preserv'd.)
On the Beach at Night Alone
On the beach at night alone, As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song, As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future. A vast similitude interlocks all, All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, All distances of place however wide, All distances of time, all inanimate forms, All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds, All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes, All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages, All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe, All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future, This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann'd, And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.
The World below the Brine
The world below the brine, Forests at the bottom of the sea, the branches and leaves, Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds, the thick tangle openings, and pink turf, Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold, the play of light through the water, Dumb swimmers there among the rocks, coral, gluten, grass, rushes, and the aliment of the swimmers, Sluggish existences grazing there suspended, or slowly crawling close to the bottom, The sperm-whale at the surface blowing air and spray, or disporting with his flukes, The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray, Passions there, wars, pursuits, tribes, sight in those ocean-depths, breathing that thick-breathing air, as so many do, The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air breathed by beings like us who walk this sphere, The change onward from ours to that of beings who walk other spheres.
On the Beach at Night
On the beach at night, Stands a child with her father, Watching the east, the autumn sky. Up through the darkness, While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading, Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky, Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east, Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter, And nigh at hand, only a very little above, Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades. From the beach the child holding the hand of her father, Those burial-clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all, Watching, silently weeps. Weep not, child, Weep not, my darling, With these kisses let me remove your tears, The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious, They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition, Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall emerge, They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again, The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure, The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine. Then dearest child mournest thou only for jupiter? Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars? Something there is, (With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper, I give thee the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,) Something there is more immortal even than the stars, (Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,) Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter Longer than sun or any revolving satellite, Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades.
What is it that we humans depend on? We depend on our words… Our task is to communicate experience and ideas to others. We must strive continually to extend the scope of our description, but in such a way that our messages do not thereby lose their objective or unambiguous character … We are suspended in language in such a way that we cannot say what is up and what is down. The word “reality” is also a word, a word which we must learn to use correctly.
–Niels Bohr, Quoted in Philosophy of Science Vol. 37 (1934), p. 157, and in The Truth of Science : Physical Theories and Reality (1997) by Roger Gerhard Newton, p. 176; courtesy of Wikiquote
Aboard at a Ship’s Helm
Aboard at a ship's helm, A young steersman steering with care. Through fog on a sea-coast dolefully ringing, An ocean-bell—O a warning bell, rock'd by the waves. O you give good notice indeed, you bell by the sea-reefs ringing, Ringing, ringing, to warn the ship from its wreck-place. For as on the alert O steersman, you mind the loud admonition, The bows turn, the freighted ship tacking speeds away under her gray sails, The beautiful and noble ship with all her precious wealth speeds away gayly and safe. But O the ship, the immortal ship! O ship aboard the ship! Ship of the body, ship of the soul, voyaging, voyaging, voyaging.
To the Man-of-War-Bird
Thou who hast slept all night upon the storm, Waking renew'd on thy prodigious pinions, (Burst the wild storm? above it thou ascended'st, And rested on the sky, thy slave that cradled thee,) Now a blue point, far, far in heaven floating, As to the light emerging here on deck I watch thee, (Myself a speck, a point on the world's floating vast.) Far, far at sea, After the night's fierce drifts have strewn the shore with wrecks, With re-appearing day as now so happy and serene, The rosy and elastic dawn, the flashing sun, The limpid spread of air cerulean, Thou also re-appearest. Thou born to match the gale, (thou art all wings,) To cope with heaven and earth and sea and hurricane, Thou ship of air that never furl'st thy sails, Days, even weeks untired and onward, through spaces, realms gyrating, At dusk that lookist on Senegal, at morn America, That sport'st amid the lightning-flash and thunder-cloud, In them, in thy experiences, had'st thou my soul, What joys! what joys were thine!
Tears! tears! tears! In the night, in solitude, tears, On the white shore dripping, dripping, suck'd in by the sand, Tears, not a star shining, all dark and desolate, Moist tears from the eyes of a muffled head; O who is that ghost? that form in the dark, with tears? What shapeless lump is that, bent, crouch'd there on the sand? Streaming tears, sobbing tears, throes, choked with wild cries; O storm, embodied, rising, careering with swift steps along the beach! O wild and dismal night storm, with wind—O belching and desperate! O shade so sedate and decorous by day, with calm countenance and regulated pace, But away at night as you fly, none looking—O then the unloosen'd ocean, Of tears! tears! tears!