Wave-girt land

Wave-girt land

A little old-fashioned, this ‘girt’, but still an unexpected way to speak of an island, focusing more on its surrounding sea than its sea-proud land. ‘A splendid midsummer shone over England: skies so pure, suns so radiant as were then seen in long...
The bounteous sea

The bounteous sea

In an age of over-fishing I like these two triologisms suggesting cornucopian fish stocks. Firstly, a reference to the brightness of Achilles’ shield, resembling a beacon giving light to mariners being buffeted on a stormy sea. The second describes Iris carrying...
Of wine-blue water

Of wine-blue water

The first time I read of the wine-blue Greek sea, I was baffled.  However, I took a second translation to read in Mykonos. Sitting one morning in a blindingly white sunlit courtyard, I cooled my eyes by looking at the sea and suddenly realized what...
An Antarctic tsunami

An Antarctic tsunami

I loved the slowly growing momentum of this vast wave, though one has to hope it would never make landfall, but could gently dissipate its force and dimension in travelling across open ocean. See also the bestellar review of this stupendously lean and powerful...
Onion-outlined turnmoil

Onion-outlined turnmoil

Such a detailed description of a passing light effect created by a boat moving through night waters. Particularly original is that ‘onion-outlined’ churn. ‘A boat, its dark shape looking faintly ominous, sculled towards the island and broke the...
Moon as feather

Moon as feather

A lyrical description of the sun, the moon, and the dreams of an otter – that he might swim, unhunted and unhungry, down to the sea with his otter-son. The metaphor makes it seem a wispy crescent moon lying smile-curved in the sky, and so resembling a falling...
Far-away conches

Far-away conches

Enticing, that ‘rumour’, a faint whisper from a distant conch, echoes of the sea rebounding around the ravine.  And those half-whittled arrows, who whittled them, and why were they left without being completed? ‘From the islanded sea the rumour of...
Cretan KPIs – Key Penmanship Indicators – VII

Cretan KPIs – Key Penmanship Indicators – VII

I found this description of the stark Cretan landscape startlingly original, using good prose as a metaphor and incidentally giving a taut definition of what makes for fine writing. I gladly add this to the WritingRedux series of Key Penmanship Indicators (KPIs). I...
Crab-green water

Crab-green water

I think I can imagine the shade of ‘crab-green’, a deep dark place where this wily old conger eel escapes its enemy the seal.  Jarrk himself is so strong that he has no enemies, allowing him, in Williamson’s take, to be gentle. Except where it comes...
Purple-grey sea

Purple-grey sea

Storminess at sea, as in the sky, can be purple-inked. ‘Beyond the ragged horizon of the purple-grey sea…’   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe (Harmondsworth:...
Wave-worn boulders

Wave-worn boulders

An alliterative view of things water-worn over time.  I have a burgeoning collection of sea-smoothed pebbles and fragments of glass rounded and opaqued by beach-abrasion. ‘Curled warm on the wave-worn boulders rolled there by the seas along Hercules...
Crab-nibbled corpse

Crab-nibbled corpse

Poor, dead, ugly bird, corpse nibbled by crabs and devoured by fish. For a stunning description of this peculiar, prehensile bird, see Adam Nicolson, in his marvelous Sea Room.  Elsewhere Williamson speaks of ‘crab-green’.’Feeding with other fish on...
Singing a stone-song

Singing a stone-song

Water is the principal element in Williamson’s assiduously researched, powerfully imagined life of an otter. I loved the idea of its singing a song by flowing over stones on its way to the sea. ‘The water sang its stone-song in the dark as it flowed its...
Of curling waves

Of curling waves

Tarka the otter enjoys his first exposure to the sea, with a wave being likened appropriately to a shell-fish. ‘A wavelet lifted Tarka and passed behind him, another curled like a long razor-fish shell and broke over him. He shook the water from his whiskers,...

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