Mar 4, 2013
As the photos suggest, I’m sometimes infatuated with the ocean, though all I do is look at it. But who can deny that the sea’s motor goes on and on and on. Surely it will wear out someday, yet it doesn’t. Only the sky is bigger. So we sometimes become annoyed at the hugeness and endlessness of oceans, which so belittle our human situation. At the same time, who can fail to be stunned mute at all that action, all that beauty?
Anne Sexton, for one. I think the opening of her "Letter Written on a Ferry . . . " is an absolute winner and attention-grabber, even as it considers attributing to the
ocean the speaker’s ennui:
I am surprised to see
that the ocean is still going on.
Today, rather than going on and on about the jackpots I’ve found in a poem, I'm asking readers to pick their favorite images or lines from the poem. Although I love several of Sexton’s details, today I'm just as fascinated by the progress of her observations and thoughts. How does she get to the nuns and what is it that she’s doing with them, particularly after the opening references to her failing relationship, to life preservers, life boats (made of cement!), and seemingly crucial little items for getting us through our lives. Can keys and wallets save her, or us?
I was waiting for Sexton to turn on the nuns and criticize or mock them. However, while I hear some comedy in certain details, I think the overall picture is respectful. She sees the nuns as having found a way to escape the oldness of the sea; unlike the speaker, they are not weighed down by lost love and aging. In fact, doesn't Sexton envy them, perhaps because they're safe up there, out there, flying above the perils of romantic relationships, with all that gravity and the pull of the sea?
Posted by Banjo52 at 12:36 PM