Burmese Mermaid

Burmese Mermaid

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Caught in the Gyre

William Butler Yeats accurately captured in words and poetic images the force of the deep ocean gyre (see previous post). I am not an especially strong swimmer by mermaid standards, so when I found myself in the cold Arctic waters off the coast of Norway recently in a widening gyre, it took all my strength to escape it.

The only way to escape the pull and fury of a gyre is to swim under it, and that is what I did. I swam almost straight down, several hundred feet at least, until I reached the ocean floor. Looking up through the miasma, I could see the gyre in the shape of an enormous funnel channeling the frigid aquamarine water, a tornado of water taking everything into itself.

Drawing on the power of my mind and ethereal body, I swam down and away from the gyre in a 5 mile semicircular path until I was finally free of it. I had been submerged for more than a day before surfacing again, in the Gulf of Finland's gentler waters. Seeking rest upon a rock, I tended to my skin and scales, injured by stones, shells, and swirling sand. My hair emerged tangled in long strands of green, red and brown seaweed.

The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats, 1865-1939

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?