I spent last weekend at the beach. The ocean is timeless, even though we've warmed it up and filled it with plastic. The ocean helps give me a long-term perspective, a helpful gift in the middle of the news these days. This poem by Derek Walcott, a Caribbean neighbor, addresses both the timelessness and its limits.
by Derek Walcott
That sail which leans on light,
tired of islands,
a schooner beating up the Caribbean
for home, could be Odysseus,
home-bound on the Aegean;
that father and husband's
longing, under gnarled sour grapes, is
like the adulterer hearing Nausicaa's name
in every gull's outcry.
This brings nobody peace. The ancient war
between obsession and responsibility
will never finish and has been the same
for the sea-wanderer or the one on shore
now wriggling on his sandals to walk home,
since Troy sighed its last flame,
and the blind giant's boulder heaved the trough
from whose groundswell the great hexameters come
to the conclusions of exhausted surf.
The classics can console. But not enough.
Here's the poem, and you can read others by Walcott here as well.
Here's today's roundup.
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