Robert Watts (August 1968 / London)
Proustian Shoreline Waves
Waves are curling and bending like falling titans slain by the trident of Poseidon pulling them back as they flee the tyranny of the sea.
The shoreline hisses at the slaying of its foe, shattered into a million beads of defeated evaporated power, retreating in disdain at the loss of its prize.
The vanquished drops retreat back down, bubbling frothing angry sounds, rushing back to join the masses, railing forth to make more splashes.
Yet Poseidon there will always lay, ready to fight, to catch, to slay, the sea with all its swell and might, kept at bay throughout the night.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
In any case, for those who care, I'll go through this one and share a thought and an interpretation or two. I've also changed verse 2 as it makes more sequential sense this way.
The great thing about poetry is that it can be many things to many people.
Whilst my interpretation maybe that it's about what i think, the great thing is that it doesn't have to be that way for everyone else. I don't own how you see things, no one does, isn't that the beauty of art in that it frees us to see what we want? We can all take our personal lens and adjust it to our viewpoint. To me, this poem is about a lot of things really; black and white, friend and foe, solid versus the fluid, permanence versus the ever changing. The sea in a constant state of flux, constantly swirling and pushing whilst in our time at least, the land remains relatively steadfast, there, non shifting, holding firm, pushing back.
When you think of a wave and watch it in action, especially those with a bit of attitude, you can conjure up all sorts of metaphors. I liked the Poseidon one as it represents the sea's mastery over its very essence. I painted the waves as escapees making their desperate dash for the land. Poseidon of course is the main man and flattens the waves at escape point. Unseen of course, he is a supercharged kick arse sea god with a huge shift yo ass fork after all!
If you've been to a beach with lots of shale, you'll recognise the hiss and bubbling of the water as it sweeps back through the millions of stones that form the shoreline. In the second verse, you may have noticed that I turned it around a little suggesting that the shore itself defeated the waves, forcing them back, standing firm as the wave crashes, resisting its force and absorbing its power. The waves are a naturally a little pissed, surprised even, originally seeing the land as a friend in verse 1, a view not shared by their repellent in verse 2.
In verse 2 I was unsure whether to use the word 'power' or 'powder'. Powder is a better descriptive, but doesn't do justice to the essence itself, which when viewed in the context of the sea at the time was very powerful indeed. The word powder is potentially relevant because the foam spray produced, could be likened to that of what happens to a bag of flour when dropped. It explodes into a cloud of whiteness before dissipating back to a more settled form.
The retreat of the water, reminded me of a dog running away with it's tail between its legs having tried it on with something a little larger than itself and finding itself on the receiving end of a metaphorical slap! Think of a pack of Hyenas even, going after a carcass only to be swatted away by a pride of hungry lions. The key thing being the skulk, the retreat, the low rumbling growl of suffering suckertash Sylvester of Looney tunes fame, bested once more by something a little more powerful than himself. For me, this is the essence of what the latter half of verse 2 and 3 are about, audacity and defeat.
The final verse is what I touched upon at the start, it's about the permanence of both. Poseidon here, is no longer at odds with the land he was never really trying to retain the waves at all. In this context he is a guardian of the land, working in the interests of the land to prevent the waves from over running things. He maintains order 24/7, solid as a rock batting the upstarts back out to sea.
What do you think? What does it mean to you? What are your favourite poems and what do they mean and why. I don't expect you to answer, just go away and think about it. Take a little time out to reflect and say hmmn.
Comments about this poem (Proustian Shoreline Waves by Robert Watts )
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