Last week, we accompanied Wordsworth as he returned to nature’s tranquil scene. That poem is brilliant for many reasons, but perhaps one of my favorite portions is this one, where he speaks of the ways that it will linger with him in future moments of reflection:
“While here I stand, not only with the sense / Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts / That in this moment there is life and food / For future years . . . ”
A few years back, this very “life and food” offered me the inspiration for a poem of my own. I have always loved the ocean, with its terrifying size and power. The sound of waves crashing on the shore are for me both soothing and unsettling; a reminder of the intricate and beautiful workings of nature, and also of its sheer might and volatility. There are few places on earth more moving to me than its shores, poised between the solidity of land and the wilderness of roiling water. I grew up vacationing on Topsail Island in North Carolina, and to these shores we would return once every year. Years later, far removed from the sounds and sights of the crashing waves, I wrote these lines; drawing only from my stored memories of its sensations.
While the ocean is indeed a powerful force in its own right, this poem seeks to present an alternative perspective to its machinations. It is an attempt to widen the frame a bit, and to reflect on the other forces at work upon it which transcend even its own power.
Where once the sand lay firm and dry
The waves now crash ashore,
And while they may advance for now
Retreat they must once more.
The Moon—it tugs, the Earth responds,
The Ocean caught between;
This celestial struggle raging,
Here on the shore is seen.
And yet, although the seasons change
This shoreline still remains
A testament to awesome power,
Unfettered and untamed.
Alas, to think, here at my feet,
A battleground resides
Between two great and mighty foes,
And in their wake, the tide.