Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wordsmiths: The Sound of the Sea

I've finally settled on calling all posts literary Wordsmiths. And since you've all been subjected to my arid prose for the past month or so, here's some relief. Today's wordsmith is Henry Longfellow, an American poet who lived in the 19th century. Being ignorant about American literature in general, that's the extent of my knowledge! Wikipedia will be a better guide.

I believe this is not his most distinguished poem, but I chose Sound of the Sea for its simplicity and accessibility. It has an enjoyable rhythm to it, simple but evocative imagery and doesn't seek to be deliberately obscure.

The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep,
And round the pebbly beaches far and wide
I heard the first wave of the rising tide
Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep;
A voice out of the silence of the deep,
A sound mysteriously multiplied
As of a cataract from the mountain's side,
Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep.
So comes to us at times, from the unknown
And inaccessible solitudes of being,
The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul;
And inspirations, that we deem our own,
Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing
Of things beyond our reason or control.

Update: Barb in the tagboard mentions that she has set it to music.

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Blogger Edwin Tay said...

Brian, two stanzas of Longfellow's poem has stuck in my system ever since I heard their choral setting by Elgar. I wonder if they strike a cord in your heart:

"As torrents in summer,
Half dried in their channels,
Suddenly rise, though the
Sky is still cloudless,
For rain has been falling
Far off at their fountains;

So hearts that are fainting
Grow full to o'erflowing,
And they that behold it
Marvel, and know not
That God at their fountains
Far off has been raining!"

1:56 pm  
Blogger BK said...

Thanks for sharing that! Seems like a lot of his stuff is set to music. Longfellow's narrative poetry sounds interesting as well.

8:48 pm  

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