Monday, July 03, 2006

The Kraken

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant fins the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

* * *

Furor likes this one, so maybe he could explain it better than I. It seems like a sonnet, but its rhyme scheme is unusual, as though Tennyson couldn't quite decide whether to make it Shakespearean or Petrarchan. It has a very deep (no pun intended) tone, like Ulmo's trumpets, if you've read The Silmarillion. The deep secret places of the sea are, scientists and poets tell us alike, more of a mystery than the surface of the moon.

It also reminds me of Lepanto:

They rise in green robes roaring from the green hells of the sea
Where fallen skies and evil hues and eyeless creatures be,
On them the sea-valves cluster and the grey sea-forests curl,
Splashed with a splendid sickness, the sickness of the pearl.

And the reference to the end of the world, when all these things shall be laid bare, puts a perfect closure on the poem, too.

4 comments:

Propter Quid said...

The surface of the moon is pretty well understood. Not only have we been there, but we can look at it whenever we want.

The sea, however, is a different beast entirely. The sheer quantity of water makes it difficult to penetrate and near impossible to see beyond a certain depth.

What's more, the deep sea is far more copmlicated and interesting than the moon (which is largely just rocks.) Incredibly strange creatures live down there many of which wait to be discovered.

Just recently, the first photograph of a live giant squid was taken at 2,950 feet below the surface of the water: National Geographic. This is the creature that many people believe is the origin of stories about the Kraken, once thought to be purely fiction.

Even more recent, is the discover of the colossal squid, which is even larger than the famed giant: National Geographic.

These creatures live deeper than the sturdiest man-made submersible has been able to reach. We cannot go into their world but they have been to come into ours. To occasionaly swim alongside ships and rarely to attack them.

It's amazing that such a different and imperceptable world is created by something so seamingly innocuous as water. There's nothing quite like it.

Propter Quid said...

Excuse me, those links where:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/09/0927_050927_giant_squid.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2910849.stm

Dr. Thursday said...

It's sad. Poor guy:

The poor and lonely Kraken
Lives more friendless than the moon.
No friends come by for snackin'...
The poor and lonely Kraken
(They'd keep him from attackin'
If they'd come to visit soon.)
The poor and lonely Kraken
Lives more friendless than the moon.

Sheila said...

*chuckles*