The sea, the sea: Poem for Reveries

07 Nov

8:06 a.m. — Atlanta

Surprise! Me too. I have been poem-dry, of late, but even when I’m not, I love to see what spurs a poem. I haven’t done a Wordle in weeks. My last Reverie? Hah! Then I read the words, ‘the sea, the sea,’ and that was it.

The poem is a lot rougher than I like. I think I ignored everything Joseph had in the exercise, but the phrase, but I am so happy to have a draft, I am posting. I can see a lot that isn’t working. If your wonderful poetic brains want to work the draft over, you know that makes me happy. Have at it.

The Sea
 The call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call
    that may not be denied. John Masefield

The sea. The sea washes back and forth,
in and out, high tides and low
inexorable as the waxing and waning moon
that pulls the tides.

The city by the sea lives with the sea,
loves the sea until one day the sea moves in
and stays, curls its tendrils around every stick and stone,
every brick and girder, swallows roads and houses.

Like water from a broken vase, the sea pools, overflows
like a bathtub, a dam breached, becomes
a monster that devours.

Flocks of gulls fly before the waves
and still they cry, ‘the sea, the sea’.

It does sound a bit of a mishmash. I shall have to roll up my sleeves [and perhaps go back into the exercise and reread what else I’m supposed to try]. If you haven’t swung by Joseph’s place, naming constellations, visit to read the prompt and to see what others have written.


Posted by on 07/11/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


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24 responses to “The sea, the sea: Poem for Reveries

  1. vivinfrance

    07/11/2012 at 9:24 am

    But you have done a splendid job, Margo, and so timely. I liked it all from the Masefield quote down to the last full stop. If I were to change anything, it would be the punctuation in “Like water from a broken vase, the sea pools, overflows
    like a bathtub, a dam breached, becomes
    a monster that devours.”

    Like water from a broken vase, the sea pools, overflows.
    A bathtub, a dam breached, become
    a monster than devours.” … to leave the reader something to work on and reduce the number of similes.

    Go on, shoot me down in flames!

    • margo roby

      07/11/2012 at 10:19 am

      ViV, never. I like the way your revision reads. Along with Barbara’s thoughts, I have a better direction, now. Ta!

  2. JulesPaige

    07/11/2012 at 9:26 am

    Mish mash is what hurricanes do best. A number of Wordles (81) were about ‘Sandy’ the ‘Frankenstorm’. I’m sure I wrote something – I think a small daily piece. But I’m a glass half full kinda person and now it’s time to rebuild. And become friends once again with the sea, the sea…

  3. barbara_

    07/11/2012 at 9:56 am

    I see why you want it. Love the last line, and :

    lives with the sea,
    loves the sea until one day the sea moves in
    and stays, curls its tendrils around every stick and stone,
    every brick and girder, swallows roads and houses.

    Like water from a broken vase,

    Your water is a soft thing, like a cat or a plant. Then it shows its strength. Nice.
    I think, maybe, it isn’t the rhythmic elements that are inexorable, or that should be described that way. Did you try it– letting them be soothing, without a foreshadowing?
    I like the bath tub; the dam may be one too many water elements–could it work to shift to something else there? muscle or steel or glacier or time. No. But some sort of change.
    I’m of two minds on the “monster that devours”. Compare it to the broken vase and overflowing tub, and it seems vague, but sometimes becoming too specific when you’re describing horror defeats the imagination.
    People will ignore danger when it is so beautiful.

    • margo roby

      07/11/2012 at 10:28 am

      Barbara, you have given me some wonderful ideas to work with. Take out ‘inexorable,’ YES! I do like that much better.
      The similes are giving me the biggest tussle. I tried Godzilla [can you see me grinning?] and went back to unspecified monster, but that is the image I see.
      If you want to read a master of imagery, read Elinor Wylie’s ‘Sea Lullaby’. Her theme is your last sentence. Talk about imbuing with personality. It is so deliciously creepy, I always gave it to my tenth graders.

      • barbara_

        07/11/2012 at 12:55 pm

        Creepy, indeed. It seems familiar. Tenth grade? Seems about right.
        I like Godzilla The Devourer scuffing furrows in the barrier islands on his way to pick up a nosh. Pity there aren’t (are there?) any myths of amphibious tigers. Cats are as amoral as the sea.

        • margo roby

          08/11/2012 at 7:36 am

          Barbara, there may be amphibious tiger monsters, but they’ll be in the Hindu myths. I love the image you give me of Godzilla. Great title, too. Godzilla the Devourer. Has a nice ring to it.

  4. Misky

    07/11/2012 at 11:39 am

    This caught my imagination (for some reason that I can’t explain)… “the sea moves in
    and stays, curls its tendrils around every stick and stone”. It might be thealliterationn. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t touch that bit because it’s perfect.

    • margo roby

      07/11/2012 at 12:26 pm

      Thank you, Misky. There is something about that bit, isn’t there? I’m not planning on changing it.

  5. val dering rojas

    07/11/2012 at 12:05 pm

    I think the poem is great, has great potential, and all of the suggestions are really good. I think you’ll have no trouble polishing this one at all, Margo. I like the idea of the city loving the sea etc then the sea sneaks up and devours– as someone suggested, I think the juxtaposition of stanzas with soothing aspects of water and then how the water swallows everything up is a good one.

    Just read the Sea Lullaby poem too. Never read that before, but it is deliciously creepy, I love it.

    • margo roby

      07/11/2012 at 12:27 pm

      Thank you, Val!

      Isn’t it? I find Wylie’s imagery quite powerful.

      • val dering rojas

        07/11/2012 at 12:46 pm

        You’re welcome!

        Yes, powerful indeed! She’s made it just uncomfortable enough, so you are sufficiently creeped out, yet not offended– I like that.

  6. Joseph Harker

    07/11/2012 at 1:02 pm

    I totally believe in magic words and the right combination of what seems so simple becoming a springboard. Glad that this one worked out. 🙂 The lovely repetition echoes the rhythm of the subject, and I like Barbara’s description of the water as soft like a cat, then showing its strength.

  7. Mary

    07/11/2012 at 7:29 pm

    Margo, don’t be so critical of yourself and your work. I just always enjoy seeing what you write. There is no such thing as perfection, and we cannot expect that of ourselves.

    • margo roby

      08/11/2012 at 7:32 am

      Thank you, Mary. I don’t expect perfection. I do work my poems towards submissions in journals. When I have one I know has something to it, I have found this group helpful, when I ask for ideas, or for what they see when they read the draft.

  8. dmarshall58

    07/11/2012 at 10:17 pm

    I like what you have here, especially when the poem turns to the city. The suggestions are good too because they draw out some of the way the poem circles around to the sea in a sort of elliptical way.

    By the way, do you know the Iris Murdoch novel, The Sea, The Sea? It’s a sort of retelling of The Tempest, and I found myself reading your poem through its lens.

    • margo roby

      08/11/2012 at 7:30 am

      Hullo, David! Good to see you here.

      I like your use of elliptical and will go back in with that as my image.

      I have not read that particular novel, but how can I resist, now?

  9. PJF Sayers

    09/11/2012 at 10:49 am

    Hi Margo, I love the second stanza of your poem, it is quite beautiful.

    “curls its tendrils around every stick and stone,
    every brick and girder, swallows roads and houses.” Very nice!

    Hope all is well with you, and missing you on Sundays also. 😉


    • margo roby

      10/11/2012 at 9:50 am

      Thank you, Pamela. This is going to be a fun poem to revise.

      I think I may see you tomorrow. The poem’s not great, but I’ve used every word! Have a great weekend. Has winter descended?


      • PJF Sayers

        10/11/2012 at 11:05 am

        Ha! You say your poem’s “not great”, I seriously doubt that, Margo. Your writing is splendid (when you chose to share with us), I love what you write. As for the weather, it is cold for me, about 40 or below at the night. The days this week have been in the 70’s, but the last two weeks were grey and dismal. The problem here is the houses aren’t equip with heating. Though, some homes have fireplaces, at least the newer ones. Unfortunately, ours does not, it is big and cold, but my dogs make wonderful foot warmers 🙂 Have a great day. See you tomorrow.


  10. Hannah Gosselin

    10/11/2012 at 12:56 pm

    Oh my word!!! Margo! I love this…I’ll tell you why…

    The feeling of huge…galactic even with the moon and the inevitable coursing of the sea moving in as with a microscope to a certain city…

    I love that you describe the city loving the sea until…

    “curls its tendrils around every stick and stone,
    every brick and girder, swallows roads and houses.”

    and I love that you zoom in even further and use the metaphor of a broken vase’s water spilling.

    My favorite though is your ending…I just love the idea that the gulls are trying to warn everyone of the rising sea.


    Great work, Margo…did I mention that I love it! 😉

    • margo roby

      10/11/2012 at 3:46 pm

      You might have mentioned it, Hannah 🙂

      The gulls part is adapted, but true. During the tsunami that swallowed Japan, there were flocks of birds just ahead of the wave. Can you imagine?

      • Hannah Gosselin

        10/11/2012 at 6:33 pm

        In imagining it my mind and scalp get the tingle rush…the air must have been just charged with such a crazy storm and wave. Wow.


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