Martin Robertson

Now and Then

The Sea
for Lucy, by request

The land stoops to the sea.

Cliff, rock, sand, pebble beach,

yielding or hard

throw back the wild

inconstant water that cries against the shore.

Yet that sea shall endure

its round of calm and storm

when all we see

of land shall cease

to be, or change its nature, structure, form.

Within this same salt tide

the other end of time

saw life begin.

Beetle and man,

grass and cedar, climbed to complexity

from cells formed in the sea

—elementals that float on

past (they the same)

eel, dolphin, weed,

coral, as when all seas were theirs alone.

Its temperate depth sustains

the coelacanth unchanged

from years ere light,

that falls now caught

in the wide dew-pond of Mount Palomar,

leapt from some galaxy, far

past the faint nebula

remotest ranged

within our sense

behind the jewels of Andromeda.

Andromeda, who naked

chained on a sea-rock, waited

out of the wave

a monstrous love

—but her wind-wooer struck him to a stone

humped in the tides, gull-lone,

gull-tenanted, and soon


on the myth-dark

sea; that is yet this sea, moved by this moon.

By moon-heaped ocean, strait

and firth where the tides race,

Leif Ericsson,

Magellan, one

seeking a golden fleece, a white whale,

legend and life, by sail

or steam or dream driven,

criss-cross the seas.

The sea remains

indifferent, inviolate.