Two archetypal images, par excellence, are the sky and the sea, as well as light and darkness. Although in the first verses of the book of Genesis of the Bible, it is stated that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," it is immediately said: "a wind of God was blowing over the waters," and a few verses later: "And God called the dry land earth, and he called the whole of the waters seas. In the book of creation of the Mayan civilization, the Popol Vuh, we can read in its first lines: "The face of the earth was not made manifest. There was only the calm sea and the sky in all its extension"; and a little further on: "There was nothing that was standing; only the water in repose, the peaceful sea, alone and calm".
Thus, in two essential, sacred books, pillars of human culture, both images are based. On the sky I shared a photographic and poetic post a few weeks ago (see here). In correspondence with him, I have decided to dedicate one to the sea.
Just as the universe of photographs about the sea must be immense, so is the inventory of poems dedicated to the sea or where it is named. I will share with you some of my own photos that have the sea as their subject, in panoramic vision or in detail, taken in different points of the eastern zone of Venezuela, where I live. And, at the same time, I will give you a very brief and personal selection of poems or fragments of poems that I think capture in a particularly remarkable way a vision and emotion of the sea.
Let's start with a verse of the poem "Marina" by Rubén Darío (1867-1916), the Nicaraguan father of Spanish-American modernism:
of diamond-studded arches that break in flight
rhythmics that denounce some hidden impetus,
mirror of my vague cities in the heavens,
white and blue tumult
from where a song comes out
paternal sea, holy sea,
my soul feels the influence of your invisible soul.
A celebration of the sea in which it is sung from a very sensory, ecstatic and filial vision.
Cruz Salmerón Acosta (1892-1929) is a Venezuelan poet, born in a coastal town (Manicuare) in the state of Sucre, where he died very young as a result of leprosy. I reproduce the poem I from "Perspective":
A piece of sea and a piece of sky
and a mountain of deep blue,
form the view that, in my eternal duel,
I watch from a corner of the world.
By the clear blue of velvet
sometimes a wandering bird passes by,
as for my perennial dream, the flight
of a tender, homeless thought.
This grey, thick foggy morning
that the sky, the sea and the mountain smoke,
my poetic visions are veiled;
More, it dissipates over the calm sea,
like the smoke of my illusions
in the depths of my soul's bitterness.
In the form of the sonnet, masterfully cultivated by this author, the poetic voice, which we can identify with the poet, brings together sea and sky to propose in delicate images the environment where his dreams and pains meet and vanish.
From Rafael Alberti, Spanish poet of the so-called "Generation of 27", his extraordinary poem "Twist me over the sea".
Twist me over the sea,
in the sun, as if my body
was the shred of a candle.
Squeeze out all my blood.
Tend to dry up my life
about the rigging on the dock.
Dry, throw me into the waters
with a stone in the neck
so that it never floats again.
I gave my blood to the seas
Boats, sail for it!
I'm underneath it, quiet.
With the passion of the voice that characterized this poet, in intense images, the sea is presented to us as a corporal, somatic belonging that brings together life and death
One of the great contemporary Western poets who sang to the sea was Saint-John Perse(1887-1975). His extensive poem Seas is a confirmation of this. Only a small fragment of it.
Immense the dawn called sea, immense the extension of the waters,
and on the earth made dream in our violet confines,
All the swell in the distance rises and is crowned with hyacinths
like a town of lovers!
The immensity of the sea is one of the motives that feeds the poetic vision, as revealed by the speaker of the poem, which is joined in this case to the dream and the vast and populous splendor of love.
The Venezuelan poet Hanni Ossott(1946-2002) made the sea one of her recurring images. In her immense poem "Del país de la pena" she gives us an example:
The sea opens up in me, vast
to wash, to water
I'm slowly going to him
Mar, I trust you to give the others their limit
like the beach
I'm absorbed in front of you, almost scared
all my risks are retracted
The relationship with the sea, expressed by the lyrical speaker, is one of wonder and reverence, like a sacred presence that contains us.
Finally, a writer, also Venezuelan, residing in Cumaná (Venezuela), Rubi Guerra(1958). Although he is not the author of poems in the limited sense of the genre, he is the author of narrative texts of a deep and markedly poetic character. I copy the lines that close his story "El mar invisible":
Suddenly, the invisible sea is there, like a smell that saturates everything and a sound of a small thing dragging towards it. His heart is pounding. He knows that the sea is looking at him, smelling him, close to him, with a threatening palpitation of life. He feels fear. He waits.
With a similar spirit to that of the voice of the previous poem, the narrator of this story highlights two features of the sea that bring us together: its smell and its sound, perhaps the most unavoidable of its presence, which in the text reaches the force of awe.
(The photos were taken with a Kodak EasyShare CD82 camera)
Jerusalem Bible (1983). Spain: Edit. Desclée De Brouwer.
Pol Vuh(1986). Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica.
Alberti, Rafael (1980). Anthology. Spain. Ediciones Júcar.
Darío, Rubén (1977). Poetry. Venezuela: Biblioteca Ayacucho.
Guerra, Rubi (2002). The bottom of silent seas. Mexico: UNAM.
Ossott, Hanni (1987). The kingdom where the night opens. Venezuela: Edit. Mandorla.
Perse, Saint-John (1983). Anabasis and other poems. Spain: Edit. Orbis.
Salmerón Acosta, Cruz (1980). Source of bitterness. Venezuela. Biblioteca de Autores y Temas Sucrenses.