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Likely Stories - Under the Sea-Wind by Rachel Carson

Sublime story of the beauty of the wild ocean.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

It is with great pleasure that I have these few minutes to tell you about Rachel Carson’s Under the Sea-Wind, a story that evolved from an eleven-page introduction ti a government fisheries brochure. It marked the debut of one of the finest writers of English in the twentieth century, and a scientist who ultimately changed the way we view our relationship with nature. In April 1936, Carson was unemployed zoologist and free-lance writer for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries assigned to write radio scripts on ocean life. By night she earned money writing articles on the natural history of the Chesapeake Bay for the Baltimore Sun, signing them ‘R.L. Carson’ in an effort to convince her readers that she was a male, and thus take her science seriously” (5).

From the forward, I learned “Under the Sea-Wind was written to make the sea and its life as vivid a reality for those who may read the book as it has become for me during the past decade. It was written, moreover, out of the deep conviction that the life of the sea is worth knowing. To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and the flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be” (3).

1. FLOOD TIDE. “The Island lay in shadows only a little deeper that those that were swiftly stealing across the sound from the east. On its western shore the wet sand of the narrow beach caught the same reflection of gleaming sky that laid a bright path across the water from island beach to horizon. Both water and sand were the color of steel overlaid with the sheen of silver, so that it was hard to say where water ended and the land began. // Although it was a small island, so small that a gull might have flown across it with a score of wing beats, night had already come to its northern and eastern end. Here the marsh grasses waded boldly out into dark water, and shadows lay thick among the low-growing cedars and yaupons” (9).

Rachel Carson’s writing fascinated me by the variety and beauty of so many wonderful flora and fauna. It also made me remember how fortunate I was to spend many years near the ocean during my years in New Jersey. Under the Sea-Wind is a marvelous and wonderful story. 6 Stars!

Likely Stories is a Production of KWBU.  I’m Jim McKeown.  Join me again next time for Likely Stories, and Happy reading!