School passed in a blur of dangling modifiers, wordy and mixed constructions and about twenty-four recitations of sea poems by Frost, Baudelaire, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore and that time-traveling favorite “Anonymous.” One student recited a poem I had memorized and recited in 1979, John Masefield’s “Sea Fever.” It is amazing to me that I remember even a fragment of a stanza of “Sea Fever,” since I can’t remember what I had for lunch–but certain phrases whip and twist around my head like ghost nets. Simple juxtapositions–“the lonely sea and the sky,” and the hurried feeling (then & now) of “a gray mist on the sea’s face and a gray dawn breaking.”
I could tell which students connected to the specifics (the curve of a shell) or believed, as Marianne Moore believed that the sea is “a grave.”
The language of effective conservation has to include poetry, science and humor. It has to become a lasting and permanent force inside us, not something we dutifully digest and regurgitate in slogans–although I spotted the words MORE BIRTH LESS EARTH spray painted on the side of rusted bridge over the 101 Freeway, about 20 years ago. It’s stuck with me as stubbornly as any poetic fragment.
P.S. I hope it’s true that demand for shark fin has declined 50-70% in China.