For authorities whose hopes are shaped by mercenaries? Writers entrapped by teatime fame and by commuters' comforts? Not for these the paper nautilus constructs her thin glass shell. Giving her perishable souvenir of hope, a dull white outside and smooth- edged inner surface glossy as the sea, the watchful maker of it guards it day and night; she scarcely eats until the eggs are hatched. Buried eight-fold in her eight arms, for she is in a sense a devil- fish, her glass ram'shorn-cradled freight is hid but is not crushed; as Hercules, bitten by a crab loyal to the hydra, was hindered to succeed, the intensively watched eggs coming from the shell free it when they are freed,— leaving its wasp-nest flaws of white on white, and close- laid Ionic chiton-folds like the lines in the mane of a Parthenon horse, round which the arms had wound themselves as if they knew love is the only fortress strong enough to trust to.
Marianne Moore - 1887-1972
Man looking into the sea, taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to yourself, it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing, but you cannot stand in the middle of this; the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave. The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey-foot at the top, reserved as their contours, saying nothing; repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea; the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look. There are others besides you who have worn that look— whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer investigate them for their bones have not lasted: men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave, and row quickly away—the blades of the oars moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no such thing as death. The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx—beautiful under networks of foam, and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed; the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls as heretofore— the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion beneath them; and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of bellbuoys, advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped things are bound to sink— in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor consciousness.