the name of the rock, older than the language of humans. It rose out of rock like something sculpted by wind, shaped by storm. It was never silent. Sea frothed and boomed constantly around it. Gulls with their piercing voices cried tales passed down from bards who spoke the forgotten language of birds. Seals, lifting their faces out of the waves, told other tales to the wind. Wind answered, sometimes lightly, sometimes roaring out of the northern hinterlands like the sound of all the magic there, if it had one word to speak, and a voice to speak it with. Then the rock would sing in answer, its own voice too deep to be heard, a song that could be felt, running from stone into bone, and from there into the heart, to be transformed into the language of dreams, of poetry. Rook heard the rock sing again the first night he slept there. Later, out of stone, he made his first song.
– Song for the Basilisk,
Patricia A. McKillip
Oh navitar, where are we bound?
My navitar, what paths are found?
Oh navitar, the binds deform,
But waking, we are then reborn.
My navitar, the river is deep,
What falls in, the Nigh will keep.
Where bound, where bound, the keeper cries,
You hear the binds, not the replies.
But sways await, the travelers sleep,
Cast off, cast off, and into the deep.
– a river song,
A World Too Near, Kay Kenyon
I know a window in a western tower
That opens on celestial seas,
And wind that has been blowing round the stars
Comes to nestle in its tossing draperies.
It is a white tower builded in the Twilight Isles,
Wher Evening sits for ever in the shade;
It glimmers like a spike of lonely pearl
That mirrors beams forlorn and lights that fade;
And sea goes washing round the dark rock where it stands,
And fairy boats go by to gloaming lands
All piled and twinkling in the gloom
With hoarded sparks of orient fire
That divers won in waters of the unknown Sun –
And, maybe, ‘tis a throbbing silver lyre,
Or voices of grey sailors echo up
Afloat among the shadows of the world
In oarless shallop and with canvas furled;
For often seems there ring of feet and song
Or twilit twinkle of a trembling gong.
O! happy mariners upon a journey long
To those great portals on the Western shores
Where far away constellate fountains leap,
And dashed against Night’s dragon-headed doors,
In foam of stars fall sparkling in the deep.
While I alone look out behind the Moon
From in my white and windy tower,
Ye bide no moment and await no hour,
But chanting snatches of a mystic tune
Go through the shadows and the dangerous seas
Past sunless lands to fairy leas
Where stars upon the jacinth wall of space
Do tangle burst and interlace.
Ye follow Earendel through the West,
The shining mariner, to Islands blest;
While only from beyond that sombre rim
A wind returns to stir these crystal panes
And murmur magically of golden rains
That fall for ever in those spaces dim.
– J.R.R. Tolkien (1915)
immobile as if he was hardened into stone. Deep concentration has outlined the veins on his forehead. In his thick beard the pearls of water gleam in the afternoon light. The sounds of the sea fill his senses: the waves foaming not far from his feet; seagulls shrieking, gliding on the wind; the heath wheezing in golden fields behind him. But there is another sound, harder to discern, that keeps his attention fixed as if fastened to the mast of a ship. The unearthly notes of a melody alien to human ears, bringing the fascination of a desire so strong, it is bound to bring damnation. His muscles, tensed, reveal how much strength it requires to resist the call. He guards his mind and listens, to memorize the inflections, decipher the tones and plant them into human words. He sees female beauty among the waves, he sees wisdom that would satisfy his hunger, he glimpses flowers of joy reminiscent of those on the Elysian Fields. It could be his alone: no one ever saw what he sees. His eyes are hollow.
– “Of Sirens and Sea Nymphs”, attributed to Imola Unger?
“moving billow of water,” 1526, from wave (v.), replacing M.E. waw, which is from O.E. wagian “to move to and fro” (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German, wag, Old Frisian weg, Old Norse vagr “water in motion, wave, billow,” Gothic wegs “tempest” see wag (v.)). The usual O.E. word for “moving billow of water” was yð. As for “billow”, it is attested from 1552, from O.N. bylgja “a wave,” from Proto-Germanic bulgjan, from Proto-Indo-European bhelgh- “to swell”, or “to belly”.
Etymology aside, I believe that what attracts me in waves is that they are the essence of everything a painting is not. They are never still. They are a continuous challenge composed of exquisitely fleeting instants. Every second is a provocation of sorts, a chaos theory conjugation of elements – light, water, wind, current, shore – that can never be properly captured.
– John Howe,
The lake is an eye, staring out of the earth, an eye without consciousness behind it. The canoe cuts across that eye.
– Winging Home, page 193,