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Sunday, 21 June 2009



Black doldrums, then a stir, then tackle snapping --
Which would you prefer, the calm after, during
Or before the storm? Anxious news flutters
Its broadsides across our ragged, tattered
Sails; lightning darkens, and it rains more
Than if the sun, drunk the night before,
Staggered by a wave, fell below the hatches;
While the moon, tossed overboard, washed ashore
On that island which no sailor reaches,
Returns to haunt our sea-locked ship, and night
Comes back to unsettle restive stagnant day.
A rotten state, finally, bearded by flies,
Dogged by the death of the wind at noon
And the breathless simoon at evening;
Black doldrums, then a stir, then tackle snapping.

Ships in Heavy Sea Running Before a Storm: Pieter Mulier the Younger, c.1648 (National Maritime Museum, London)
Storm at Sea: Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1568 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

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