Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as
you have to it yourself,
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 top,
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of
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
for their bones have not lasted:
men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are
desecrating a grave,
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
the birds swim throught the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls
as heretofore --
the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion
and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of
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
I recently ran across this poem when helping someone with an essay for a core class and it has stuck with me for a while now. I read that Moore was inspired at least partially by the sinking of the Lusitania and her brother joining the Navy. That historical background was probably part of why the poem stuck with me, but more than that I just find myself needing to read it over and over again. I just can't explain why.