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Ocean

  • The sea was indistinguishable from the sky, except that the sea was slightly creased as if a cloth had wrinkles in it.

  • [The sea] is the healer and the reviver, it cleanses the cavities of self-disgust and melancholy, of sloth and negation with the salt solution of life. It cures the lethargies of flesh and spirit with the slap and shake of elemental force. It cradles and comforts. Give it trust and it holds you secure; fight it and it kills.

  • But, visiting Sea, your love doth press / And reach in further than you know, / And fills all these; and, when you go, / There's loneliness in loneliness.

  • It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose, should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.

  • For all at last return to the sea — to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the ever-flowing stream of time, the beginning and the end.

  • Autumn comes to the sea with a fresh blaze of phosphorescence, when every wave crest is aflame. Here and there the whole surface may glow with sheets of cold fire, while below schools of fish pour through the water like molten metal.

  • When we go down to the low-tide line, we enter a world that is as old as the earth itself — the primeval meeting place of the elements of earth and water, a place of compromise and conflit and eternal change.

  • Always the edge of the sea remains an elusive and indefinable boundary. The shore has a dual nature, changing with the swing of the tides, belonging now to the land, now to the sea.

  • Nowhere on the shore is the relation of a creature to its surroundings a matter of a single cause and effect; each living thing is bound to its world by many threads, weaving the intricate design of the fabric of life.

  • The ocean is a place of paradoxes. It is the home of the great white shark, two-thousand-pound killer of the seas, and of the hundred-foot blue whale, the largest animal that ever lived. It is also the home of living things so small that your two hands might scoop up as many of them as there are stars in the Milky Way.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1937, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • ... the sea is a place of mystery. One by one, the mysteries of yesterday have been solved. But the solution seems always to bring with it another, perhaps a deeper mystery. I doubt that the last, final mysteries of the sea will ever be resolved. In fact, I cherish a very unscientific hope that they will not be.

    • Rachel Carson,
    • 1937, in Linda Lear, ed., Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson ()
  • The fiddler crab fiddles, glides and dithers / dithers and glides, veers; the stilt-eyes / pop, the legs prance the body glides, stops, / the front legs paw the air like a stallion, / at a fast angle he veers fast, glides, stops, / dithers, paws.

  • The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.

  • ... the Atlantic's too big for me. A creek's got more of the sea in it, for people who want to turn it into poetry.

  • People who live by the sea / understand eternity.

    • Erica Jong,
    • "People Who Live," At the Edge of the Body ()
  • I was born by the sea, and I have noticed that all the great events of my life have taken place by the sea. My first idea of movement, of the dance, certainly came from the rhythm of the waves.

  • The idea of seeing the sea — of being near it — watching its changes by sunrise, sunset, moonlight, and noonday — in calm, perhaps in storm — fills and satisfies my mind.

    • Charlotte Brontë,
    • 1839, in Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, vol. 1 ()
  • ... the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.

  • Fog rolled in like a form of sorrow. To live exiled from a place you have known intimately is to experience sensory deprivation. A wide-awake coma. ... The sea was a memory bank into which everything fell and was lost. I dove in but came out empty-handed.

  • The fog lifted in the evening and a blue-black band at the horizon marked the end of the sea and the beginning of thought. Where does a beginning begin when nothing has gone on before?

  • In the evening we went for another walk. Sinking into sand, Sam's tracks were bright meteors, appearing suddenly, then fading to black. I stood in water up to my knees, grabbing phosphorescence and invisible plankton, squeezing light out of the ocean's dark brew. Light is chemical, electrical, mineral, just the way memory is, and I wondered if light had invented the ocean and my hand dragging through it, or if memory had invented light as a form of time thinking about itself.

  • Between highway sounds I heard waves and thought how the curve of the coastline here had sheltered and nurtured live-born sharks, humans, and migrating whales. Here, at the edge of the continent, time and distance stopped; in the lull between sets of waves I could get a fresh start.

  • A black-crowned night heron stood on an apron of wet sand, looking across the channel. The feather plume at the back of his head lifted in a faint breeze. Out there the channel churned its cyclonic eddies counterclockwise. Schools of anchovies, halibut, and sea bass came and went: silver flashes, small storms that well up from the inside of the sea but are short-lived, like lightning.

  • The eternal sound of the sea on every side has a tendency to wear away the edge of human thought and perception ...

  • Of all the things I have ever seen, only the sea is like a human being; the sky is not, nor the earth. But the sea is always moving, always something deep in itself is stirring it. It never rests; it is always wanting, wanting, wanting.

  • ... the lunging waves shook froth from their mouths like runaway horses ...

  • I love the sea with its impenetrable fathoms, its wash and undertow, and rasp of shingle sucked anew.

  • I never liked the landsman's life, / The earth is aye the same; / Gi'e me the ocean for my dower, / My vessel for my hame. / Gi'e me the fields that no man ploughs, / The farm that pays no fee ...

    • Miss Corbett,
    • "We'll Go to Sea No More," in Mary Russell Mitford, Recollections of a Literary Life, vol. 2 ()
  • The sea is an astonishing creature ...

    • María de Ágreda,
    • c. 1645, in Clark Colahan, trans., The Visions of Sor MarÍa de Ágreda ()
  • The sea makes no promises and breaks none.

  • Like your most nightmarish ex, a jellyfish is brainless, heartless, and spineless ...

  • O mother, mother, hear the sea! / it calls across the sands; / I saw it tossing up the spray, like white, / imploring hands ...

  • And the storm went on. It roared, it bellowed, and it screeched: it thumped and it kerwhalloped. The great seas would come bunt agin the rocks, as if they were bound to go right though to Jersey City, which they used to say was the end of the world.

  • In the biting honesty of salt, the sea makes her secrets known to those who care to listen.

  • The sea can swallow ships, and it can spit out whales like watermelon seeds. It will take what it wants, and it will keep what it has taken, and you may not take away from it what it does not wish to give.

  • Afraid? Of you, strong proxy lover, you, God's sea? / I give you my small self ecstatically, / To be caught, held, or buffeted; to rest / Heart to your heart, and breast to breathing breast ...

  • ... the waves chewed at the sand / with white teeth ...

    • Nancy Mairs,
    • "Mother, Because We Do Not Speak of Such Things, I Have Written You a Poem," In All the Rooms of the Yellow House ()
  • It is painful to absorb the fact that one generation, our generation, has not only poisoned the air to a degree which is causing us serious disabilities, and plundered the earth, but now is beyond any doubt corrupting the ocean. The mysterious human bond with the great seas that poets write about has a physiological base in our veins and in every living thing, where runs fluid of the same saline proportions as ocean water. It is no wonder that we are instinctively drawn to the sea and would avoid any sign that we are damaging it.

  • I love the sea from the shore / And I love the shore from the sea, / I love the shore from the shore / But I don't love the sea from the sea!

  • It has always been to me, the ocean, overwhelming, monstrous, deep, dark, green and black, so foreign that it requires respect, silence, humility. ... All of the life in it is menacing, compelling, exquisite, with nothing consoling.

    • Andrea Dworkin,
    • "First Love," in Julia Wolf Mazow, ed., The Woman Who Lost Her Names ()
  • The vast Pacific ocean would always remain the islanders' great solace, escape and nourishment, the amniotic fluid that would keep them hedonistic and aloof, guarded, gentle and mysterious.

  • If the sea is sick, we'll feel it. If it dies, we die. Our future and the state of the oceans are one.

  • It doesn't matter where on Earth you live, everyone is utterly dependent on the existence of that lovely, living saltwater soup. There's plenty of water in the universe without life, but nowhere is there life without water.

  • There is an enormous amount to be learned about the sea; like most wildernesses, it has great potential.

    • Sylvia A. Earle,
    • in Joyce Teitz, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? ()
  • Success underwater depends mostly on how you conduct yourself. Diving can be the most relaxing experience in the world. Your weight seems to disappear. Space travel will be available only to a few individuals for some time, but the oceans are available to almost everyone — now.

    • Sylvia A. Earle,
    • in Joyce Teitz, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? ()
  • To me, the sea is like a person — like a child that I've known a long time. It sounds crazy, I know, but when I swim in the sea I talk to it. I never feel alone when I'm out there.

  • And for me, there is no body of water more enrapturing than the Pacific Ocean. It's like a great big open mind. Just looking at it makes everything seem possible; being on it or in it makes everything seem not only possible, but likely.

  • ... when you're talking about nature, you're talking about the ocean — because most of nature is the ocean.

  • O room so full of sunlight / Of sound and scent of sea! / No other room in all the world / Could be so dear to me.

    • Ella Higginson,
    • "The Room by the Sea," When the Birds Go North Again ()
  • Just at the turn of the tide, nature held its breath — no bird sang, everything seemed to be waiting and waiting. And then, sure enough, as if someone had flicked a switch, everything started in motion again.

  • Living by the ocean was like going to third grade with someone who went on to become world-famous. The relationship became an integral part of one's identity.

  • I don't get used to living at the beach, to seeing that wet horizon. It's the edge, the country's aisle seat.

    • Amy Hempel,
    • "Tonight Is a Favor to Holly," Reasons to Live ()