Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

This is a version of a famous poem by Mallarme called 'Brise Marine'

Sea Wind

Sea Wind

(Mallarme)

It's a sad creature I'm afraid the body
all the classics - every book that stands steady
I on my shelves I've read them through but only
to make this wish - oh to walk to the edge of the sea
and watch stints skittering along the tideline
then scattering up and beyond into the sky!
not a thing - not the gardens of mouldy chateaus
wet and glaucous in her eyes -
not a thing no one will stop me I've got to go
down to the wild sea - I tell you not nights
crossing blank pages under my desklamp
- not that desert wild or the sigh
of a dumpy girl breastfeeding her child
will stop me booking a berth on some tramp
steamer heaving its rust toward the tropics

- I'll wave my snotrag from the deck sick
of stroking my own boredom - by the saltstained smokestack
let me dream of wind and wrecks!


from The Road to Inver: Translations, Versions and Imitations 1975-2003 (Faber, 2004), copyright © Tom Paulin 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher