The Sea


Salt, bitter salt
is the sea, and clear and cold.
In the depths much moulders away,
but the sea cleanses all.
Wild, prey-beast wild
is the surf’s glittering leap,
but no human thoughts
are high as the song of the deep.
Strong, eternal and strong
is the waves’ immense train,
and strong with the eternal sea
each wave soft, transient.
Though the sea asks blood of her man,
give your life to the sea.
At last, deep in the depths,
none attains a rest like he.


Karin Boye (1900-1941), Sweden, Complete Poems

Cover: Thierry de Cordier (1954), Mer Montée, detail (painting, 2011)

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