The Sea Horse

Original Text: 
Rosemarie Rowley, The Sea of Affliction (Dublin: Rowan Tree Press, 1987): 31.
(for Linda Hill)
1It makes no difference what the scientists say
2The hand of God that drew night and day
3Out of the mysterious void so we could be
4Said "Let there be light." Then He conceived the Sea.
5So God made nature, His bride and artifact,
6Who must be joined to man to be exact
7Solicitous, creative, her form adored-
8But men are treacherous, and she gets bored.
9The sea bows out, so has a neat acquittal
10But a woman has to hang on, it's marital
11Defined by her childbearing propensity
12He ignores her intellectual intensity.
14The seahorse, is father and mother of a nation
15Bearing his eggs, his body all erect
19What finger initialling in the sand
20Would be seahorse in the middle of that band?
21I, said the mother, who would die of thirst
22Rather than be considered first
24Having precedence in this unseemly fight.
25So the wedding's done, the guests have gone to seed
26To celebrate necessity and greed
28Can sing the sadness of a broken reed?


13] femine: of womankind, `feminine' (see OED, "femine," ca. 1530-1610). Back to Line
16] In only the seahorse and pipefish, alone of all creatures, do the males carry the eggs, which are fertilized initially in the female. Back to Line
17] flagellate: microscopic protozoan organism that moves by means of flagella. urchin: hedgehog, a little spiny-backed mammal. Back to Line
18] Queen Mab: the faeries' midwife, who "makes maids lie on their backes, / And proues them women of good cariage" (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet lines 511, 537-38). Back to Line
23] trilobite: arthropod, with a segmented exoskeleton and jointed appendages, thought to be extinct until a specimen turned up off the coast of Africa in the 1930s. Back to Line
27] plangent: mournful. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © Rosemarie Rowley 2007. Not to be republished without permission of the poet.