“Salt Unseeing” – Anonymous

“Salt Unseeing” – Anonymous

Let’s all sink sighingly into the comfort of a warm metaphorical bath as we take a look back to love, and back to WATER. There sea-ms to be a running theme so far, but I’m not shore it will last.

*peals of hysterical laughter*

How about we just pretend that that bad pun relapse never happened and INSTEAD focus on the  novelty of this poem, both in that it is unclear exactly where it came from, but also in terms of its structure –fairly sonnet-like at first, but suddenly cutting off– and unusual use of imagery. “Fire = love, yes. Water = love… tell me more?”, I hear you say. And I, generous spirit that I am, will oblige. Papercuts and lemons feature in this soul-searching number, the combination of which I am inclined to think might be the worst torture known to man. (Women, on the other hand, know childbirth. Round of applause.)

The dreamer and his dreams are as the sea,

Whose ebbs and fluid tongues are cast adrift

And still, while waves her fevered fathoms free,

Continues calm in dampened, nascent thrift.

(stanza one)

As fire-fierce love with healing flush inflames,

Her brackish spray, though blindly burning, cures,

And blindly, while it comforts, further maims;

Who loves, albeit simply, but obscures.

(stanza two)

The Big (or slightly reduced depending on how eager you are) Scoop

Where do I start with this? There are some interesting word choices, of course (just me that had to look up “nascent”?) but it’s also a struggle to reconcile the steady beat of the unchallenged metre and playful resource to emphatic alliteration with any strong feeling, right? WRONG. The fricative nature of the “fevered fathoms” does not render their significance less serious or less meaningful, but highlights both the inability of language to express ideas such as love, as well as the power of these strong emotions to simultaneously construct and reduce an identity. Of course.

In fact, that seems to be the very paradox explored in the second stanza. How can something which “comforts” also “maim[]”? What links “burning” to any “cure”? While the immediate answer might be “Nothing, duh” (mine certainly was, at least, but I’m sure Ye Of Sublime Intelligence can pinpoint an answer with relative ease), the extended metaphor of the ocean struck a chord. When there is a break in your skin (and I can tell you from ermm, personal experience sciencey science knowledge that the cut need only be infinitesimally small to have a markedly large effect) into which a weak acid like lemon juice or SEAWATER –and just a tip, since the title of the poem is not Yellow Citrus Fruits Unseeing, anyone who can only really relate to the first option might want to bow out now– makes its sneaky entrance, there is no limit to the pain which it causes. To put it bluntly, cutting off the finger seems like a better option than continuing to soak that papercut. But it does help! After the pain has worn off, the cut will feel better. That’s the painful nuisance of science for you.

And love is basically one big paradox. It requires a great deal of you, but it equally rewards in abundance. It demands “thrift” combined with all the excess that the vast ocean can provide. So now that this great mystery has been sorted out and we can carry on with our lives in peace, what’s going on with the whole blind/unseeing malarkey?

“Love is blind” is a well-known adage. And whoever has seen Beyoncé and Jay-Z together will know that it’s true. (JUST JOKING, I adore them both and am in fact very jealous of their relationship in an admiring, non-stalkerish-and-actually-quite-normal way) The repetition of “blindly” leads up to the final, giant statement: that “whoever loves”, however basic the relationship is, creates a new identity for both lover and loved. As a result of the preconceived ideals and perceptions each player comes in with, neither can ever know, or see, the other, or *drumroll* themselves.

Well, this is a bit depressing. But I’ll try to salvage the situation through exploring what the poem does not say.* It doesn’t say that this means we are all doomed for ever and cannot love anyone for fear that they are not what we think. Not at all. It says that knowing this and STILL daring to love is what makes the process so incredible, so common to everyone and so personal each time. Love rules, y’all.

 

* Not everything it doesn’t say, just the happy and relevant bits. For instance, it doesn’t predict the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016, which I think we can all agree would really be quite uplifting.

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