I don't even mind the shoreside kitsch like I used to, because it will always be overwhelmed by the sea's solemnity. We came from there, biology tells us--seawater runs in our arteries--yet it is a liquid desert to us now, not at all hospitable. There is a fascination with vast, deceptively simple things that are in reality infinitely complex--the ocean; deep space; death, perhaps. And unlike some other notions of plenitude, the ocean has the distinct advantage of indubitably existing. True, the water is implacable, caring nothing about us, but that can be a comfort. If an omnipotent being were to take a special interest in us, it may not be a good thing; there are worse fates than being ignored.
It's also the title of a wicked Led Zeppelin song, not to mention the subject of a sublime essay ("The Star Thrower") by Loren Eiseley.
This favorite Marianne Moore poem came to mind (with some formatting adjustments thanks to the annoying Blogger platform):
Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey-foot at the
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea;
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have worn that look--
whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer investigate
for their bones have not lasted:
men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a
and row quickly away--the blades of the oars
moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no such
thing as death.
The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx--beautiful under
networks of foam,
and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed;
the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls as
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion
and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise bell-
advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped
things are bound to sink--
in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor