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The Sea

The Sea

“The sea is a hungry dog,
Giant and grey.
He rolls on the beach all day.
With his clashing teeth and shaggy jaws
Hour upon hour he gnaws
The rumbling, tumbling stones,
And ‘Bones, bones, bones, bones! ‘
The giant sea-dog moans,
Licking his greasy paws.

And when the night wind roars And the moon rocks in the stormy cloud,
He bounds to his feet and snuffs and sniffs,
Shaking his wet sides over the cliffs,
And howls and hollos long and loud.

But on quiet days in May or June,
When even the grasses on the dune
Play no more their reedy tune,
With his head between his paws
He lies on the sandy shores,
So quiet, so quiet, he scarcely snores.”

A British writer, John Morris Reeves (1st July 1909 – 1st May 1978) was principally known for his poetry, plays and contributions to children’s literature and the literature of collected traditional songs.  In his poem, “The Sea”, he describes the sea at three different times of the year – like the sea itself, the rhythm of the poem is irregular as the waves that hit the shore.

Denny Bradbury, in her poem “Sea Changes” from her new collection of poetry, ‘De:versify’, also talks in the final stanza of how the sea is ever-changing and never still:

“My cares are gone,
And I can face the world again
With pleasure.
Sea’s never still;
It comes and goes
And soothes with equal measure.”

In his first stanza, Reed compares the winter sea to a hungry dog, one that is permanently in need of food and fierce in its desire to be sated:

“With his clashing teeth and shaggy jaws
Hour upon hour he gnaws
The rumbling, tumbling stones,
And ‘Bones, bones, bones, bones! ‘”

Denny Bradbury paints a similar picture in her poem “Broken in Time”, where she describes the relentless nature of the sea:

“Sea reclaims its own
Pulling earth to drown
Sea reclaims its own
Shore has nowhere to turn…

…Relentless is the sea
Waves bring their own delight
Pounding, rounding
Pulling, thrilling
Crashing in their might.”

Reed goes on to describe the sea as a more playful canine creature in the second stanza, with
the boundless energy showing through:

“..He bounds to his feet and snuffs and sniffs,
Shaking his wet sides over the cliffs,
And howls and hollos long and loud.”

In his final, third stanza, he uses the imagery of the sea in the late Spring and early Summer as much more of a calm dog that lets mankind play on its shores without being disturbed:

“…But on quiet days in May or June,
When even the grasses on the dune
Play no more their reedy tune,
With his head between his paws
He lies on the sandy shores,
So quiet, so quiet, he scarcely snores.”

Denny, in her poem “Wave” also talks of the changing nature of the sea and how it can be both ferocious and calming in its natural state:

“What is a sea thought?

Whence does it come?

Crashing about me,
Bursting through foam.

Riding the crest,
White horses charge on,
Surrounding my being,
Too soon gone.

My mind, it is still now –
Calm deep as the sea.
Watery spirit has
Quieted me.

From here I go on-
Sea thoughts and storm:
Swirling or calming,
Always perform.”

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