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  • Liza Stirlinglass

Human Nature and The Sea

As a response to her poem Tides, the poet Mary Oliver responds to her own words with this reflection:

The Poet Compares Human Nature to the Ocean from which we Came


The sea can do craziness, it can do smooth

it can lie down like silk breathing

or toss havoc shoreward; it can give


gifts or withhold all; it can rise, ebb, froth

like an incoming frenzy of fountains, or it can

sweet-talk entirely. As I can too,


and so, no doubt, can you, and you.


Mary Oliver's words first struck a chord with me as social media blew up following the interview with the Sussex's and then, days later, the tragic death of Sarah Everard. The havoc of differing opinions following the interview, pulled friends and neighbours in different directions. Some of the words that followed caused both harm and hurt. Then, the tide turned as an outpouring of grief for Sarah and the phrase "she was just walking home" united and stirred women of all ages, races, cultures, class to write about and share their own personal stories. Havoc and Giving indeed.


As we emerge from three hundred and sixty five days and counting of lock downs, personal restrictions and learning to be with ourselves I find the phrasing of Oliver's words apt again and I wonder are we, am I, entering a new period of craziness, or will the transition be smooth? I find myself both fearful and excited, apprehensive and confident, wanting to stay safe indoors and wanting run wild, embrace as many people as I can. Frenzy and Sweet-Talk.


I am in no doubt I am not alone in these mixed feelings, and as we emerge collectively and individually back to the shoreline, my hope is that like the sea we can do smooth. Give ourselves permission to breathe like silk and give, be kind and generous to ourselves, to nature and to each other. Rising and ebbing gently.




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