Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Some friendliness in that strange sea

....A few more images from my weekend trip to the Oregon coast. These are a couple of Harbor Seals at Depoe Bay (The World's Smallest Navigable Harbor). A fisherman was cleaning fish on the dock above them, but their pleading eyes had to be ignored because there is a fine of $700+ for feeding them in the harbor area.

The Dancing Seal by Wilfred Wilson Gibson

When we were building Skua Light--
The first men who had lived a night
Upon that deep-sea Isle--
As soon as chisel touched the stone,
The friendly seals would come ashore;
And sit and watch us all the while,
As though they'd not seen men before;
And so, poor beasts, had never known
Men had the heart to do them harm.
They'd little cause to feel alarm
With us, for we were glad to find
Some friendliness in that strange sea;
Only too pleaed to let them be
And sit as long as they'd a mind
To watch us: for their eyes were kind
Like women's eyes, it seemed to me.
So, hour on hour, they sat: I think
They liked to hear the chisels clink:
And when the boy sang loud and clear,
They scrambled closer in to hear;
And if he whistled sweet and shrill,
The queer beasts shuffled nearer still:
But every sleek and sheeny skin
Was mad to hear his violin.

When, work all over for the day,
He'd take his fiddle down and play
His merry tunes beside the sea,
Their eyes grew brighter and more bright,
And burned and twinkled merrily:
And as I watched them one still night,
And saw their eager sparkling eyes,
I felt those lively seals would rise
Some shiny night ere he could know,
And dance about him, heel and toe,
Unto the fiddle's headdy tune.

And at the rising of the moon,
Half-daft, I took my stand before
A young seal lying on the shore;
And called on her to dance with me.
And it seemed hardly strange when she
Stood up before me suddenly,
And shed her black and sheeny skin;
And smiled, all eager to begin . . .
And I was dancing, heel and toe,
With a young maiden, white as snow,
Unto a crazy violin.

We danced beneath the dancing moon
All night, beside the dancing sea,
With tripping toes and skipping heels:
And all about us friendly seals
Like Christian folk were dancing reels
Unto the fiddle's endless tune
That kept on spinning merrily
As though it never meant to stop.
And never once the snow-white maid
A moment stayed
To take a breath,
Though I was fit to drop:
And while those wild eyes challenged me,
I knew as well as well could be
I must keep step with that young girl,
Though we should dance to death.

Then with a skirl
The fiddle broke:
The moon went out:
The sea stopped dead:
And, in a twinkling, all the rout
Of dancing folk had fled . . .
And in the chill bleak dawn I woke
Upon the naked rock, alone.

They've brought me far from Skua Isle . . .
I laugh to think they do not know
That as, all day I chip the stone,
Among my fellows here inland,
I smell the sea-wrack on the shore . . .
And see her snowy-tossing hand,
And meet again her merry smile . . .
And dream I'm dancing all the while,
I'm dancing ever, heel and toe,
With a seal-maiden, white as snow,
On that moonshiny Island-strand,
For ever and for evermore.



Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

Lovely mix of words and image. The seals and water look metallic ... magical and eerie.

Fireblossom said...

Selkies!!! You have no idea how much I love selkie stories. My favorite is "From The Sea" by Crystal Barela. This made my morning, Lydia.

Your photographs are wonderful.

Fireblossom said...

You inspired me!


Jessi Haish said...

aww how cute!

susan said...

They are beautiful and it's not hard to see how the legends surrounding the selkie-folk — the seal people — sprang into life.

English Rider said...

Well captured, in image as in word.

Snowbrush said...

I live just 60 miles from the coast, but have rarely seen seals that close except at Sea Lion caves.

Rob-bear said...

What cuties those Seals are!
Almost as cute as a Bear.

Lydia said...

Kay~ How interesting to read your comment that the water and the seals look metallic. It is true. I have noticed that before in different shots I have taken at the Oregon coast...and as I thought about it I realized that I noticed it during the fall season. I wonder if it has something to do with the weight and density of the coastline waters with autumn temps. Who knows? But it is magical and can seem eerie.

Fireblossom~ After reading your most excellent poem about a selkie at your blog I absolutely do know how much you love selkies! Your poem was beautiful.
I do not know Barela's story... up to now my favorite selkie story is "The Secret of Roan Inish." :)

Jessi~ Yes, they sure are. How nice to see cute you, and I hope all is well with school, etc.

susan~ I agree. If you have a moment I think you would truly appreciate Fireblossom's selkie poem that she linked in her comments here. :)

English Rider~ Glad you liked the post. I saw lots of dogs on the beach, but no Collies. <:

Snowbrush~ Wow, there is nothing like Sea Lion Caves. It is mind-blowing! But, yeah, there at Depoe Bay harbor you can frequently luck out and see them there. They come into that tiny harbor because the fishing fleet is so condensed, I guess, and their chances for a tidbit are greater. I've seen them at Seaside too, but you can get much closer to them at Depoe Bay.

Rob-bear~ Aren't they? It has something to do with those soulful eyes and the playful whiskers....



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