Still looking for inspiring reading about the ocean, it occurred to me to turn to poetry. Surely our library would have some ocean-themed collections of poems! Unfortunately not, but the Internet has plenty. Having found only a few books that celebrate the ocean for itself so far (rather than a particular marine creature, I mean), it was fun to find some poetry that did the job well.
The local library did have some good titles in their “Fables and Fairy Tales” section that were worthwhile, notably “Why the Tides Ebb and Flow” by Joan Chase Bowden (the illustrations are the best part of this book). I would also recommend Hotel Deep (by Kurt Cyrus) which is not only lovely but scientifically accurate–which the “Tides” book is not, obviously!
Finally, just for fun, here are some my favorite picks from the poetry search.
Ocean, pray, how deep are you?
Ocean wide, how old?
Could I but wander, wander through
Your blue depths, silent–cold!
Old Ocean, your sheer, satin gown,
Is good and fair to see:
Those that with battered wrecks go down,
In it shall folded be.
Then give me, Ocean, restless strength
To travel o’er you far,
To know your reach and sinuous length,
Till towering mountains bar.
A Life on the Ocean Wave
A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters rave,
And the winds their revels keep!
Like an eagle caged, I pine
On this dull, unchanging shore:
Oh! give me the flashing brine,
The spray and the tempest’s roar!
Once more on the deck I stand
Of my own swift-gliding craft:
Set sail! farewell to the land!
The gale follows fair abaft.
We shoot through the sparkling foam
Like an ocean-bird set free; —
Like the ocean-bird, our home
We’ll find far out on the sea.
The land is no longer in view,
The clouds have begun to frown;
But with a stout vessel and crew,
We’ll say, Let the storm come down!
And the song of our hearts shall be,
While the winds and the waters rave,
A home on the rolling sea!
A life on the ocean wave!
Airy foam and fairy form
With white moonlight on her breast,
Fairy form and airy foam
Blowing from the topmost crest.
Weaving waves and writhing wraithes
Sliding drop on silver limb,
Writhing wraithes and weaving waves
Scarcely seen by moonlight dim.
Cloudy moon and moonlit cloud
Sailing o’er the fairy forms;
Moonlit cloud and clouded moon
Driven by advancing storms.
How We Go
One ship drives east and another west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That determines the way we go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life:
Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox