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
Sojourn in the Whale
Trying to open locked doors with a sword, threading the points of needles, planting shade trees upside down; swallowed by the opaqueness of one whom the seas love better than they love you, Ireland— you have lived and lived on every kind of shortage. You have been compelled by hags to spin gold thread from straw and have heard men say: "There is a feminine temperament in direct contrast to ours, which makes her do these things. Circumscribed by a heritage of blindness and native incompetence, she will become wise and will be forced to give in. Compelled by experience, she will turn back; water seeks its own level"; and you have smiled. "Water in motion is far from level." You have seen it, when obstacles happened to bar the path, rise automatically.