Unknown: The Calling of the Sea


William Hope Hodgson was a minor poet by all accounts. During the early 20th century, only two slim volumes of his poetry were published; these were collected, and reprinted, as his third. It took until 2005 for the next, and, though there have been more poems since, there have been no more publications dedicated solely to his poetry.




Hark! The voice of the Ocean is calling,

With an insistence

Sad and appalling,

Scorning resistance,

Out from the steepness

Of the great deepness

Lying in fathoms below that cold dress;

Where, in their starkness,

Smothered in darkness,

Like the dead, seeming

Silently dreaming,

Clasped in the strength of the Ocean’s caress.

What are the words said?

Have any caught them?

Are they the whisperings of the long-dead?

List, while the tides stem,

Liquid and sable,

Over the cable,

Sobbing and moaning some solemn decree.

Listen at midnight,

Over the lee-rail,

Under the moonlight,

Unto the sad wail;

Listen – be still!

Chance thus some mariner gather at will

Some tiny gleaning

Of the deep meaning,

Spoken forever,

Understood never,

In the low voice that calls out on his lee,

In the sad voice that cries out in the wake,

In that wild calling so cold and so dree.

Still, as the years go,

Lonely ships sailing

(Under the lee-strake)

Hear that slow wailing

Rise from below;

Yet none is able,

On the wide Ocean,

O’er the great surface of the deep sea,

Tossed by the motion

Of its wild waters,

Now, or forever, to tell unto me

What it is saying,

Jeering or praying,

Or whispering warnings

Unto its daughters

Of somber dawnings

Ushering mornings

Pregnant with terrors the dead only see.


Please take a brief moment in time…to find out more of this brilliant writer.  His simplicity understates the deep meaning held in every phrase, whispered through his deep fascination of some of the very elements in life that give rise to life in whole.




Author: mmartel

"If he's honest, he'll steal; if he's human, he'll murder; if he's faithful, he'll deceive. Being at a loss to resolve these questions, I am resolved to leave them without any resolution." I have so much to say to you that I am afraid I shall tell you nothing."

2 thoughts on “Unknown: The Calling of the Sea”

  1. There is a magic in every body of water. Something that is foreign but calls us to it. It’s wild, ancient, and, for the most part, untouched by human will. It’s vastness and depth make it so. This poem you’ve shared capture this important aspect of it.

  2. Yes, there is something infinitely mysterious and alluring of it. It is also a source of great life. Something untamed, something necessary. These things speak of the paradox of being alive, the want…the need and the truly necessary components that must coexist. It is foreign, yet still exists within. When one is called to nature, yet cannot comprehend why…it is because it simply is and must remain so untouched. So that one is always drawn…but does not drown in all its wonder.

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Precisely why I share such things…

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