I have been swept away in a glorious tide of sea-themed poetry in honor of National Poetry Month. The Deep Sea lads selected one each, and Jim Lemire one too. Here’s a selection from my favorite sea-themed poem ever. It’s by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, written in the tenth century and recorded in the Exeter Book. This version was translated by Burton Raffel in 1964.
No harps ring in his heart, no rewards,
No passion for women, no worldly pleasures,
Nothing, only the oceans heave;
But longing wraps itself around him.
Orchards blossom, the towns bloom,
Fields grow lovely as the world springs fresh,
And all these admonish that willing mind
Leaping to journeys, always set
In thoughts traveling on a quickening tide.
So summer’s sentinel, the cuckoo, sings
In his murmuring voice, and our hearts mourn
As he urges. Who could understand,
In ignorant ease, what we others suffer
As the path of exile stretch endlessly on?
And yet my heart wanders away,
My soul roams with the sea, the whales’
Home, wandering to the wildest corners
Of the world, returning ravenous with desire,
Flying solitary, screaming, exciting me
To the open ocean, breaking oaths
On the curve of a wave.
Read the whole poem here.