Salty Quotes – sea and land
Here be some seadrift, some spindrift….
“Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra.”
― John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat
“The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.”
― Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca
I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over”
― John Masefield, Sea Fever: Selected Poems
“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
― Anaïs Nin
“The fog was where I wanted to be. Halfway down the path you can’t see this house. You’d never know it was here. Or any of the other places down the avenue. I couldn’t see but a few feet ahead. I didn’t meet a soul. Everything looked and sounded unreal. Nothing was what it is. That’s what I wanted—to be alone with myself in another world where truth is untrue and life can hide from itself. Out beyond the harbor, where the road runs along the beach, I even lost the feeling of being on land. The fog and the sea seemed part of each other. It was like walking on the bottom of the sea. As if I had drowned long ago. As if I was the ghost belonging to the fog, and the fog was the ghost of the sea. It felt damned peaceful to be nothing more than a ghost within a ghost.”
― Eugene O’Neill, Long Day’s Journey Into Night
“But though, to landsmen in general, the native inhabitants of the seas have ever regarded with emotions unspeakably unsocial and repelling; though we know the sea to be an everlasting terra incognita, so that Columbus sailed over numberless unknown worlds to discover his one superficial western one; though, by vast odds, the most terrific of all mortal disasters have immemorially and indiscriminately befallen tens and hundreds of thousands of those who have gone upon the waters; though but a moment’s consideration will teach that, however baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, that science and skill may augment; yet for ever and for ever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever i find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet… I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
“You sea! I resign myself to you also-
I guess what you mean,
I behold from the beach your crooked fingers,
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me.
We must have a turn together,
I undress, hurry me out of sight of the land,
Cushion me soft, rock me billowy drowse,
Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you.”
― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself
“Bad, or good, as it happens to be, that is what it is to exist! . . . It is as though I have been silent and fuddled with sleep all my life. In spite of all, I know now that at least it is better to go always towards the summer, towards those burning seas of light; to sit at night in the forecastle lost in an unfamiliar dream, when the spirit becomes filled with stars, instead of wounds, and good and compassionate and tender. To sail into an unknown spring, or receive one’s baptism on storm’s promontory, where the solitary albatross heels over in the gale, and at last come to land. To know the earth under one’s foot and go, in wild delight, ways where there is water.”
― Malcolm Lowry, Ultramarine
“He rose and turned toward the lights of town. The tidepools bright as smelterpots among the dark rocks where the phosphorescent seacrabs clambered back. Passing through the salt grass he looked back. The horse had not moved. A ship’s light winked in the swells. The colt stood against the horse with its head down and the horse was watching, out there past men’s knowing, where the stars are drowning and whales ferry their vast souls through the black and seamless sea.”
― Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West
“A swaddled silence would be over the island, nights like that: if they complained, or had to cry for some lesion or cramp, it was baffled by the thick mists and all you heard was the tide, slapping ever sideways along the strand, viscous, reverberating; then seltzering back to sea, violently salt, leaving a white skin on the sand it hadn’t taken. And only occasionally above the mindless rhythm, from across the narrow strait, over on the great African continent itself, a sound would arise to make the fog colder, the night darker, the Atlantic more menacing: if it were human it could have been called laughter, but it was not human. It was a product of alien secretions, boiling over into blood already choked and heady; causing ganglia to twitch, the field of night-vision to be grayed into shapes that threatened, putting an itch into every fiber, an unbalance, a general sensation of error that could only be nulled by those hideous paroxysms, those fat, spindle-shaped bursts of air up the pharynx, counter-irritating the top of the mouth cavity, filling the nostrils, easing the prickliness under the jaw and down the center-line of the skull: it was the cry of the brown hyena called the strand wolf, who prowled the beach singly or with companions in search of shellfish, dead gulls, anything flesh and unmoving.”
― Thomas Pynchon, V.
“There, at a depth to which divers would find it difficult to descend, are caverns, haunts, and dusky mazes, where monstrous creatures multiply and destroy each other. Huge crabs devour fish and are devoured in their turn. Hideous shapes of living things, not created to be seen by human eyes wander in this twilight. Vague forms of antennae, tentacles, fins, open jaws, scales, and claws, float about there, quivering, growing larger, or decomposing and perishing in the gloom, while horrible swarms of swimming things prowl about seeking their prey.
To gaze into the depths of the sea is, in the imagination, like beholding the vast unknown, and from its most terrible point of view. The submarine gulf is analogous to the realm of night and dreams. There also is sleep, unconsciousness, or at least apparent unconsciousness, of creation. There in the awful silence and darkness, the rude first forms of life, phantomlike, demoniacal, pursue their horrible instincts.”
― Victor Hugo, The Toilers of the Sea
“I find it very difficult to talk here now because I’m watching the sea all the time. The sea always makes me watch it all the time. I’ve spent hours and hours not just on the sea but just watching wave after wave come in. If it’s an image of anything, I think it’s an image of our own unconscious, the unconscious of our own minds… or you can put it the other way around, and that is that we have a sea in us. After all, we are sea creatures that learnt to walk on the land, are we not? And perhaps one way or another we go back to it. Every night when we dream we go back into that kind of depths, and that kind of beauty and monstrosity and mystery. So really the sea is not a single image, it can really image almost anything that the human mind can discover.”
― William Golding
How strangely still
The water is today,
It is not good
To be so still that way.
– Langston Hughes
FOR the sea as a whole,the alternation of day and night, the passage of the seasons, the procession of the years, are lost in its vastness, obliterated in its own changeless eternity. But the surface waters are different. The face of the sea is always changing. Crossed by colors, lights, and moving shadows, sparkling in the sun, mysterious in the twilight, its aspects and its moods vary hour by hour. The surface waters move with the tides, stir to the breath of winds, and rise and fall to the endless, hurrying forms of the waves. Most of all, they change with the advance of the seasons. Spring moves overthe temperate lands of our Northern Hemisphere in a tide of new life, of pushing green shoots and unfolding buds, all its mysteries and meanings symbolised in the northward migration of the birds, the awakening of sluggish amphibian life as the chorus of frogs rises again from the wetlands, the different sound of the wind which stirs the young leaves where a month ago it rattled the bare branches. These things we associate with the land, and it is easy to suppose that at sea there could be no such feeling of advancing spring. But the signs are there, and seen with understanding eye, they bring the same magical sense of awakening.
-Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us