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I'm not usually one for poetry. Very little of it really sings to me, and I feel like it is important that such a strong form of written word be astounding to your soul, and not just pretty words.

My grandfather used to tell me that the Christian Bible was written in verse because only poetry could hope to describe the Infinite. Prose, while wonderful in its own way, is more useful for portraying the finite. That finite can be amazingly complex, but it still won't be infinite.

I've been hanging around the trek slash comms lately, and there is a verse commonly used in those circles: "all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." Beautiful words that speak to the adventuresome spirit, as well as to the potential for ego and humility in humanity. The line is from John Masefield's "Sea-Fever".

The line has history with Star Trek, but that isn't why I like the poem. To be honest, I probably can't really explain my appreciation for "Sea-Fever" properly right now, except to say that it reads like prose. And I know that might sound a bit strange, but I've been attracted to poetry that sounds like conversation or reads like a story for as long as I can remember. And I don't mean I like traditional ballads.

A poem doesn't have to actually tell a specific story for me to like it, and it doesn't have to be written in plain modern english or free verse or anything like that. I don't really know if I can accurately tell you what I mean right now. Christ, maybe I need more sleep.

In any event, I'm leaving you with two poems. The first is the poem that inspired this post, and the second is one of my favorites.



Sea-Fever by John Masefield

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.



Alone by Edgar A. Poe

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.
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aslana

February 2011

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