The Sea as Viewed from Shore / from The Sea
A brave Dutch sailor, a steady and cool observer, who has spent his life on the sea, says firmly that the first impression that one has of it, is one of fear. For any terrestrial being, water is the unbreathable, asphyxiating element. It is the fatal and eternal barrier, which irreversibly separates two worlds. It should come as no surprise that the enormous mass of water that we call the sea, whose profound depth remains unknown and obscure, has always appeared formidable to the human imagination.
Orientals see it as none other than a bitter chasm—the Night of the Abyss. In all the ancient languages, in those of India and of Ireland, the term for sea is synonymous or analogous to the desert and the night.
—Translated from the French by Katia Sainson
English language Copyright ©2008 by Katia Saison. Reprinted by permission of Green Integer.
Refusing to swear allegiance to the regime of Emperor Louis Napoleon, the great French naturalist Jules Michelet (1798–1874) turned his attention to a study of the natural world, which he published in several volumes. La Mer (The Sea), one of the best of these, is part prose poem, travelogue, and autobiography, which influenced such notables as Jules Verne and was the subject of studies by Roland Barthes and others. Green Integer will publish The Sea in early 2009).