The Sea Is History by derek walcott

what is ‘The Sea Is History‘ doing in a nature book  (the nature reader, pages 11-13)? what am *i* doing in a nature book? actually, what am i doing *not* in a nature book but at a keyboard? the nature book is to my right, closed.

back to the first topic: what’s ‘The Sea Is History’ got to do with nature and human relations to it?

well, the poem is biblical in its metaphor of human evolution, but claims that is not yet history. even the writings of herodotus and thucydides are not historical by modern standards, tho i can’t bother to remember why.

a point is: the interpretation of, the relationship between, nature and human shifts, but the actual events do not; they are what they are.

we humans seek to find meaning, and so develop a story, an explanation, a history–why does the eagle have a white crown? how does prince charles become king? why do mitochondria power cells? and so on…..

or as the poem asks, ‘Where is your tribal memory?’ locked up in the sea. the sea is the sea. the poem tells us a story and gives us a meaning of the sea.

if a tree falls in a forest, if a galaxy swirls, if … does anybody hear? does anybody care? is consciousness the end product or a by-product? what’s it all mean? now? a hundred years from now?

back to the poem. where is that book?

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