Sea change

These waters are never still.  The perpetual motion of the tides carries drowned sailors south from Cape Wrath to rest on the shores of haunted Sandwood Bay.

I think of Lycidas drowned
in Milton’s mind.
How elegantly he died. How langourously
he moved
in those baroque currents. No doubt
sea nymphs wavered round him
in melodious welcome.

And I think of Roddy drowned
Off Cape Wrath, gulping
fistfuls of salt, eyes bursting, limbs thrashing
the ponderous green. – No elegance here,
nor in the silent welcome
of conger and dogfish and crab.

Norman MacCaig – Sea change, January 1978

Sandwood Bay ...
Sandwood Bay ...
Sandwood Bay ...


  1. Cate Franklyn · April 30, 2015


    • northumbrianlight · April 30, 2015

      Many thanks Cate – a little wilder than the Jersey Shore 😉 (and more inaccessible).

  2. iosatel · April 30, 2015

    Very beautiful!

  3. Cindi · April 30, 2015

    Such peaceful and powerful images to accompany this poem. Perfect.

    • northumbrianlight · April 30, 2015

      Many thanks Cindi – you can rely on MacCaig for fine words about such places.

  4. easyweimaraner · April 30, 2015

    the sea can be so wonderful …and so cruelty the same time… Think we should visit our beach too as long as we are nearly alone there :o)

  5. Thom Hickey · April 30, 2015

    Thanks. Powerful images and words. McCaig really doesn’t waste a word! Regards Thom.

  6. LaVagabonde · April 30, 2015

    Looks like an unforgiving shore. Is this the land mentioned in Golf in the Wild where you said you’d never spend the night?

    • northumbrianlight · April 30, 2015

      The very same – well remembered (although in truth, the reluctance probably has more to do with discomfort than haunting 😉 )

  7. Graham Stephen · April 30, 2015

    The final shot is very fine indeed

    • northumbrianlight · May 1, 2015

      Many thanks Graham – it took about a dozen exposures to get the waves breaking against the dark cliffs (otherwise the effect is lost against the sky). And I got my feet wet for the second 🙂

  8. restlessjo · May 13, 2015

    Love these photos, Robin. How was the book tour? 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · May 13, 2015

      Many thanks Jo. The tour was a great success but for various reasons it has been hectic since we returned – hence my lack of posts and only irregular access to the Reader. Hope all is well with you and yours and hopefully I should be back to more regular WordPress activity soon. All the best, Robin.

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