Wavelengths – Part 1

It does not speak to me, this sea. I find
No wisdom in the suck and swish of sand,
No music in the whining of the wind,
No conversation where it meets the land.
It is a thing half-known: a childhood friend
And playmate; now a stranger, grown apart.
I never dreamed those summer days would end,
Or guessed at this indifference in my heart.
Some men it calls to sail away: the weight
Of water and the world pull them. To go
Down to the sea in ships was not my fate:
The landsman’s life’s the only one I know.
I’ll breathe salt air and open up my ears
To catch a voice that calls across the years.


Back from three weeks on the beach in Brittany with notebooks stuffed with ideas, my head bursting with plans, and the car full of sand, seashells and baguette crumbs. The unmistakeable signs of a good, and much-needed, holiday. I started this piece the day after we arrived; I’ll post the follow-up I wrote a couple of weeks later in due course. N.

11 thoughts on “Wavelengths – Part 1

  1. Hi Nick, glad you had a good holiday and are back safe. I am sort of back too! Not from holiday but from other things. I am still having all round problems so just showing my face here now and again to keep in the loop!

    It’s quite fascinating how our,( well, my, at least) feelings can change over the years. My childhood memories of the sea and sand were Bridlington every year and I wanted nothing else! Now my pleasure in the sea takes me (in my head mostly) to the west coast of Ireland where we have had family for years. And as for my father, well he lived for the sea. He was chief engineer in the merchant navy. I wrote a little poem about him recently, I may post it sometime 😉 he was never truly happy on land.

    I love this poem and have missed reading your regular posts. Your talent for writing still shines through and I look forward to part 2! 🙂

    Christine x

    • How lovely to hear from you after what has been far too long an absence: I’ve missed you. So glad things are improving for you at last. I guess growing up by the sea (first in Worthing, then Dorset) has made me a bit blase about it; by the same token, I think my deep love of the countryside comes from the fact that I didn’t live in it until I was 15 – which as we all know is a highly impressionable age. I like being BY the sea, but have absolutelt no desire to go IN or ON it: far too cold and wet for me. But as you’ll see, we reached an understanding. N.x

    • As often happens with sonnets, the first 10 lines came to me more or less complete, but I then had a dickens of a job getting the last four to gel. It was only when I got home that all became clear. Thanks, as always, for your generous comment. N.

  2. Hi Nick
    So you started with this feeling about the sea, I am curious if it altrered during your stay! I like the rhyming poems of yours very much, and I know those men who want to be at sea (or need to be) , I suppose they were “called”.
    I think I do find a lot of peace just being near the sea, but I am always near it, so I wouldn’t know.
    Maybe if you listen carefully you hear the sea speak to you too 🙂 Anyway, glad you are back posting and I hope you had a wonderful holiday! Looking forward to the other poems.
    Ina xx

    • Thank you, Ina – as you’ll see, I got to know the sea a little better during the trip. My wife and daughter both love the sea, to the extent that they enjoy swimming in it – something I just can’t understand…although I was born and spent my early life in a seaside town, I’m definitely a dry-land person! N.x

  3. Wonderful work as usual, Nick. What I like about it is the slightly contrarian view in the first ten lines, then the affirmation of who you perceive yourself to be
    The landsman’s life’s the only one I know.
    but then the almost wistful remembering in the couplet:
    I’ll breathe salt air and open up my ears
    To catch a voice that calls across the years.
    The voice the one that knew the sea as a childhood friend and playmate.

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