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Sea Sketch – by Simon Armitage

Here is the beautiful poem Simon wrote for Edie
included in the BBC2 programme The Great War – An Elegy

Sea Sketch
by Simon Armitage

Dear Mother, I have come to the sea
to wash my eyes
in its purples, blues, indigos, greens,

to enter its world and emerge cleansed,
to break the surface
then watch the surface heal and mend.

Behind me the land lies mauled and wrenched,
but I have not flinched
from uncommon holes in the flesh of men

or heads oozing with shattered minds,
and have not shied
from livers and lungs exposed to the light,

and have balanced and carried faltering hearts
in my cupped hands
through the egg and spoon race of death and life.

Some men I kissed: boy soldiers
raving and blind,
begging for love from a mother’s lips,

and when death stands with its black shawl
at the foot of the bed
a white cotton handkerchief eases the soul…

So allow me the beach, the sea,
its handwritten waves,
the act of making a simple sketch

of a simple ketch, or stick figures plunging
into the depths,
or a cormorant baring its breast to the sun,

or at dusk, Venus robed in her wedding dress,
her silver train
like a path on the water heading west.


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