“Earth, Sea and Sky” contains many different types of poem on a wide variety of subjects. As the title suggests, there are descriptions and analyses of the world we live in: our homes on the land, the sky above us and the seas and oceans around us.
Poems are the literary equivalent of optical instruments. A telescope reveals the mysteries of distant galaxies, stars and planets: a poem reveals the mysteries at the hidden core of philosophy and theology. A microscope takes us down among the atoms and molecules from which our universe is built: a poem takes us down among the secret thoughts from which our personalities are built.
Poems are the literary equivalent of different types of transport. The ballad metre trots like a well-trained pony. The sestina steams along like a commuter train calling at country stations on its way to the city. The rondel sails gracefully from port to port. These and other poetic formats can be found in this collection.
Some poems investigate famous unsolved mysteries: what really happened to the three missing lighthouse keepers from the Flannans? What became of the crew of the Mary Celeste? What lies hidden in the Oak Island money pit off the coast of Nova Scotia? What happened to the Waratah? What mysterious power lurks in the Bermuda Triangle?
Other poems describe remarkable characters and their lives: Francis Drake, Henry Morgan, Grace Darling of the Farne Islands and Henry Blogg, the fearless lifeboatman from Cromer in Norfolk, where the author once worked as a journalist.
There are also philosophical poems which set out to examine the true nature of Gaia and the symbolic meaning of the travels of Odysseus.
Other poems describe strange, historic and significant places such as the Cave of Shalinar, where archaeologists maintain that all of human history can be traced. These locational poems include Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount, the Tomb of Abraham and Criccieth Castle in Wales.
A few of the poems create sequels to the thoughts contained in famous verses from the past, such as Shelley’s Ozymandias and Matthew Arnold’s The Forsaken Merman. In this collection Ozymandias Replies tells how much he enjoyed life and has no regrets. The Merman’s Wife Returns provides a happy ending instead of Arnold’s sadness.
There are also some lighter verses: one of these looks at life aboard from the point of view of the ship’s cat; others refer to Sinbad the Sailor and a stowaway.
One or two of the poems set out to cover some of life’s problems that beset us all from time to time. These include: The Age-Dragon, Be Like a Self-righting Lifeboat and The Ultimate Power.