Who hath desired the Sea? …the sight of salt wind-hounded… The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber win hounded? The sleek-barrelled swell before storm, grey, foamless, enormous, and growing.. Stark calm on the lap of the Line or the crazy-eyed hurricane blowing … His Sea in no showing, the same his Sea, and the same ’neath each showing: His Sea as she slackens or thrills? So and no otherwise.. so and no otherwise … hillmen desire their Hills! Kipling
This is a new painting from my collection “Who Hath Desired the Sea” see the others below…it was time to add another and this time I painted it in acrylic…all the others are in watercolour… The poem is a magnificent one which resounds with the movement of the waves, (recite it out loud and you will see), and doing the paintings required me to imagine myself out at sea, where I have not been for a very long time..
Acrylic on Canvas…to read the other verses in the poem, click the titles of the images..
An extraordinary poem of desire is presented here and a no less extraordinary technical achievement, where the pounding energy of the sea is created through language and rhythm, only to be interrupted and masterfully turned against itself at the close of every verse. This structure means that readers are flung repeatedly against a contradiction: in speaking of the sea, the poem asks them to take pleasure in violent sound and movement but it immediately compares this pleasure with the longing for composure, for silence and stillness, as they are found in the hills.
This technique attempts to present as a single experience the longing for utter wildness and a desire for home. Yet for a reader who does not insist that naming the sea as ‘she’ is purely conventional, the image of a woman, perhaps a mother, hovers behind the surface of this poem. This woman, like the sea and also like the mother who abandoned him in Southsea is both the site of a dangerous turbulence of feeling and the object of inveterate longing. The hills, on the other hand, present an image of the maternal body that promises peace….M. Hamer