Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
Gerard Manley Hopkins “The Starlight Night” 1985
The sea begins with the stars.
Charlotte Runcie “Salt on Your Tongue” 2019
For a brief moment Venus shines alone above the black waves. In the twinkling of an eye, stars swarm in the liquid night.
Albert Camus “The Sea Close By” 1967
Cold, clear, and blue the morning heaven / Expands its arch on high; / Cold, clear, and blue Lake Werna’s water / Reflects that winter sky: / The moon has set, but Venus shines, / A silent, silvery star.
Emily Brontë 1836
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim
Percy Bysshe Shelley “The Cloud” 1820
He gave himself up to his dreams. They were blue and rocking, like the sea had been that night.
Tove Jansson “Moominpappa at Sea” 1948
The weeping Pleiads wester, / And the moon is under seas; / From bourn to bourn of midnight / Far sighs the rainy breeze
O brown halo in the sky near the moon, drooping upon the sea! / O troubled reflection in the sea! / O throat! O throbbing heart! / And I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night.
Walt Whitman “A Word out of the Sea” 1867
For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its streams of stars – pilgrims of morality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time.
Henry Beston “The Outermost House” 1928
But the stars had come out, in a display so resplendent as I had seen only over the Alps when I was a child, or over the desert in my dreams.
W. G. Sebald ” The Rings of Saturn” 1998
and so left him to be floated away to the starry archipelagoes; for not only do they believe that the stars are isles, but that far beyond all visible horizons, their own mild, uncontinented seas, interflow with the blue heavens
Herman Melville “Moby-Dick; or, The Whale” 1851
And then, much much farther away, stars were quietly shooting and tumbling and disappearing, silently falling and being extinguished, lost utterly silent falling stars, falling from nowhere to nowhere into an unimaginable extinction.
Iris Murdoch “The Sea, The Sea” 1978
Dat is one thing you can count on. Everything else in dis goddom world changin so fast dat a mon cannot keep up no more, but the north star is always dere, boy, de cold eye of it, watchin de seasons come and go.
Peter Matthiessen “Far Tortuga” 1975
There was a star riding through clouds one night, and I said to the star, “Consume me.”
Virginia Woolf “The Waves” 1931
The boat’s slow progress through the night was like the passage of a coherent thought through the subconscious.
Joseph Brodsky “Watermark: An Essay on Venice” 1992
For night is always the sea of an ancient dream, / of a cold and hollow dream in which nothing remains / of the sea but the remains of a shipwreck of the forgotten
Xavier Villaurrutia “Nocturne” 1933
You can be what you want to be in the dark.
Philip Hoare “RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR” 2017
All photos by Beach Books.
In search for the soul of the sea, you might also enjoy these quotes I’ve collected from books in the Sea Library, including a line from a poem by Anne Stevenson, where she says that “the sea is as near as we come to another world”. What do you think? What quotes about the sea are tattooed on the skin of your memory? Let me know.