Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Bunny Clarke

Photographic Prints


Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by 

Sizing Information

Small 10.7" x 8.0"
Medium 16.0" x 12.0"
Large 21.3" x 16.0"
X large 26.7" x 20.0"


  • Superior quality silver halide prints
  • Archival quality Kodak Endura paper
  • Lustre: Professional photo paper with a fine grain pebble texture
  • Metallic: Glossy finish and metallic appearance to create images with exceptional visual interest and depth

I have always wondered where this phrase came from. While wikipedia doesn’t know for sure, they have some interesting thoughts.

The phrase may have been a nautical reference to the deep blue sea and a “devil”, a seam (where two hull planks meet) that is difficult to reach on a ship. It may have been a reference to being a member of the lower deck or crew of a sailing ship in the English Navy. Such sailors were often pressed into service unwillingly. One who was “between the devil and the deep blue sea” would literally be beneath the upper deck (officer territory) and thus a member of the crew.

Another possible origin involves the fact that “devil” was a name for the longest seam of a wooden ship,1 which ran from the bow to the stern. When at sea and the devil had to be caulked, the sailor sat in a bosun’s chair to do so. He was suspended between the devil and the sea, a very precarious position, especially when the ship was underway. If sailors fell from a footrope under a yardarm, they would either land on the deck (within the devil plank) or in the water (outside of the devil plank). Either option is likely fatal.

However, this nautical origin is unlikely. This is because the first recorded citation of “the Devil and the deep sea” in print is in Robert Monro’s His expedition with the worthy Scots regiment called Mac-keyes, 1637: “I, with my partie, did lie on our poste, as betwixt the devill and the deep sea.” Because the nautical use of the word “devil” as mentioned above cannot be confirmed until more than two centuries later, the nautical origin seems improbable.

A simpler reading is that both outcomes effectively equal death – either you’re in hell, or you’re at the bottom of the sea unable to breathe – choosing between the two is pointless, since they are simply both unwanted situations.

Created in UF 5.04 with post work in Photoshop.

deviant art: bpclarke

Featured in:
Feminine Intent May 2013
Art in Math Aug 2013

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fractal, abstract, dreams, illusions, fantasy

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fractal, abstract, dreams, illusions, fantasy

I try to create images that will touch your heart or soul and make them go “twang”. Eye candy for the soul is my goal. :o)

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  • Donna19
    Donna19almost 2 years ago

    Very cool info Bunny. I didn’t know this either. Thank you for enlightening me:)) Lovely image

  • Thank you very much Donna. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • Carolyn Clark
    Carolyn Clarkalmost 2 years ago

    Love the colors!!!

  • Thank you Carolyn. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • JohnDSmith
    JohnDSmithalmost 2 years ago

    Lovely creation,….interesting info,…

  • Thank you John. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • Pam Amos
    Pam Amosalmost 2 years ago

    soft and pretty…. :)

  • Thank you Pam. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • James Brotherton
    James Brothertonalmost 2 years ago

    Very nice Bunny and great read :)

  • Thank you James. I’m glad you enjoyed. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • vinmac
    vinmacalmost 2 years ago

    Lovely sparkling picture Bunny, reminiscent of an azure sea, somewhere in the Atlantic or Pacific ocean. I think your notes are very interesting too Bunny; I’m always looking for alternative ways of expressing this sentiment. ’Hobson’s Choice’ is another, or – ‘same difference’; ‘Whichever way you choose…’ ‘Whichever way you please…’

  • Most of us in the US use wikipedia. There is another, but I cannot remember who it is at the moment. Google is always good for finding stuff too. :o) Thank you. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • Krys Bailey
    Krys Baileyalmost 2 years ago

    This is beautiful, Bunny!

  • Thank you very much Krys. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • Lynn Gedeon
    Lynn Gedeonalmost 2 years ago


  • Thank you. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • paintingsheep
    paintingsheepalmost 2 years ago

    Joyous and lovely creation!

  • Thank you so much Gena. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

  • Christine Lake
    Christine Lakealmost 2 years ago

    Magnificent creation Bunny.

  • Thank you Christine. :o)

    – Bunny Clarke

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