Monday, April 20, 2015

A Sea-Prayer - William Stanley Braithwaite

Lord of wind and water
Where the ships go down
Reaching the sunrise,
Lifting like a crown,

Out of the deep-hidden
Wells of night and day -
Mind the great sea-farers
On the open way.

When the last lights darken
On the far coastline,
Wave and port and peril
Sea-Lord - all are thine.

As the title says, this is a simple prayer to the Lord of the seas, asking humbly for the protection of those who sail its lanes.  The poem is full of language that exalts the "Sea-Lord," as if recognizing his power and greatness while still begging his mercy and protection.  The sunrise is like a crown on his kingdom of all seas.  The narrators asks for him to "mind the great sea-farers on the open way."  Mind them.  Protect them.  There's a deep respect and reverence in the simple rhythm of the poem, and it exudes humility.

I like to imagine this poem being said by the loved one of a sailor at night, looking out over the frightening ocean.  Prayers said into the night, over a domain of "wave and port and peril."  Hope and humility are present in equal measure, and one can't help but hope that the Sea-Lord listened to this prayer.

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