Monday, January 19, 2009


I was contemplating inspiration this morning when a poem of Longfellow’s nudged my memory. While not my favorite American poet, I’ve always related to Longfellow’s fascination with the sea and find it intriguing the way he used it as a narrative device to explore the nature of creativity and inspiration. Who can’t relate to a tired poet lacking, and thus looking for, inspiration? A broken oar, so useless to the rower, would inspire the poet. Well done, Mr. Longfellow.

The Broken Oar

Once upon Iceland's solitary strand
A poet wandered with his book and pen,
Seeking some final word, some sweet Amen,
Wherewith to close the volume in his hand.
The billows rolled and plunged upon the sand,
The circling sea-gulls swept beyond his ken,
And from the parting cloud-rack now and then
Flashed the red sunset over sea and land.
Then by the billows at his feet was tossed
A broken oar; and carved thereon he read,
"Oft was I weary, when I toiled at thee";
And like a man, who findeth what was lost,
He wrote the words, then lifted up his head,
And flung his useless pen into the sea.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


willow said...

Beautiful imagery penned by an icon!

Joanne said...

If the rower could only know what beauty his tired oar inspired. Lovely.

Drive-thru said...

Very nice poem. Thanks for posting it.
I like the way you put your blog all together. Tres chique.

Poetikat said...

Wonderful poem and great photograph to illustrate it. I have an affinity for the sea as well.


sizzie said...

thanks for the beauty today.

Anonymous said...

"And flung his useless pen into the sea" Sometimes I feel like that.

Thank you for sharing such a lovely poem.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Thank you for this lovely poem, Peggy!

I feel like throwing my pencils into the lake, or wherever, at times! But it is in a positive sense, in that nature is so very beautiful, what can I possibly contribute?

Then later, the effects of nature having done their work on me, I go back to my creativity with renewed motivation!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh, I've really enjoyed re-reading these two Longfellow poems so much!
Thank you for posting them. Now I want to be seaside!!

Peggy said...

Raph, my sentiments exactly!

Pamela & Edward, isn't it funny how certain authors and poets can transport you and leave you longing for the real thing? I, too, have been feeling drawn to the sea. Our poor frozen lake doesn't count this time of year! :-)

Derrick said...

Hi Peggy,

Enjoyed the poem very much and, for the first time, I have noticed your decorative blog background! I like it very much. The copper tones and floral tendrils are so rich!

Marie Reed said...

I usually write next to the fireplace.. I few pencils have been sacrificed as 'kindling' .. :)

Marie Reed said...

I found your follower matrix! I'm a happy camper!

Peggy said...

Welcome, Marie!