I gaze upon the endless sea
against high cliffs, on golden sand—
her everlasting majesty.

Through ages rolling wild and grand,
oblivious to time and space,
against high cliffs, on golden sand.

Her every mood my cares erase—
there’s healing in each surge and flow,
oblivious to time and space.

So when in doubt, to her I go
to liberate my heart from pain.
There’s healing in each surge and flow.

With all else lost, she will remain—
her constant symmetry and might
to liberate my heart from pain.

To watch her darkness and her light
I gaze upon the endless sea,
her constant symmetry and might—
her everlasting majesty.



Plea to the Ocean

Forbid me not to grace thy hallowed shores.
Betray me not, my presence ne’er bemoan—
thou ocean, like thy countless paramours
who’ve gone before me, to that vast unknown.
I’ve sullied not thy depths of mystery
nor cursed thy ever-changing fickle mood,
instead, esteemed your great supremacy—
returned to you for peace and solitude.
Receive me now and bring me sweet release,
while soothing with the glory that is you.
Allow me to unite with thee at peace,
for I have loved thee faithfully and true,
to rest in thee forever in thy spray—
embrace me now and carry me away.



For Love of the Sea

Thalassa spoke when as a child I played upon the sand—
her swirling foam a gentle whisper I could understand.
In playful mood I’d chase her just to run from her in glee,
then stop – allow my feet to be caressed by teasing sea.
She spoke with enigmatic sighs of lands so far away—
I’d sit and listen, lick my face of salty windblown spray.

She called to me throughout the years, beguiled me with her charm
and mesmerized, delighted me – her beauty could disarm.
She summoned me persistently; I missed her when away—
her therapeutic greatness, her spectacular display.
Enchanted, captured by her spell I’d stroll along the shore
admiring her magnificence till I could walk no more.

I’ve sailed upon her surface, gazed in staggered disbelief
when plunging into chambers deep to view her coral reef,
cocooned in silence all around in Triton’s hidden world
to marvel at the multicoloured splendour there unfurled.
I’ve surfed her splendid pipelines, felt momentum unsurpassed,
and stolen countless fish from her with all the lines I’ve cast.

She beckoned in the evenings with her sensuality,
the moon’s reflection on her face creating mystery,
her quietness inscrutable, yet hushed seductive tones
would hold me captivated, sending shivers through my bones.
Her Sirens on those balmy nights intoxicated me—
she stole my heart forever, this alluring, regal sea.

I’ve seen her calm and tranquil lying blissfully serene,
providing yachts with refuge moored in harbours safe, pristine
whilst white-winged birds shrieked loudly as they hovered in the sky,
admired a pod of dolphins as they’ve swiftly coasted by,
surveyed the dancing whitecaps when the summer breezes blow
and sunlight glistening brightly on his looking glass below.

I’ve heard Poseidon bellow and observed with anxious awe
as fearsome forces gathered, rose to crash upon the shore
with raging waters pounding, power nothing can withstand,
as if to prove their mastery of this primeval land—
her impact carving mountains over every century
to sculpt dramatic cliffs, create the coastline of the sea.

Her many moods astound me. She is beautiful and still,
yet treacherous and unforgiving, wild and cruel at will.
I’ve envied her unleashed emotions passionate and raw,
her silence, freedom, solitude, potential to restore,
respected her invincible and vast supremacy,
secure within her might and her assumed infinity.

So at my end when nothing’s left my solitude to ease,
I pray Thalassa calls me still with precious memories.
As long as I can watch her endless steadfast roll and surge,
the sight will take away my pain and all misgivings purge.
Then happily I’ll listen to that constant ebb and flow,
which drew me as a child and gripped my spirit long ago.

I know her soothing presence will surround me with her peace.
I’ll happily surrender to her lure of sweet release.
One final time she’ll speak to me, her voice will fill my mind
and gladly I will ride that swell and never look behind.
I’ll close my eyes and drop my weary head upon my chest—
the sea will fill my heart and soul and carry me to rest.



Originally from New Zealand, Catherine Lee is an expatriate currently residing in Thailand. Previously a Purchasing Agent in the hospitality industry, she is now a freelance professional proofreader/editor. In Australia, she has been the recipient of such prestigious prizes as the Blackened Billy Award, Ipswich International Prize, Bryan Kelleher Literary Award, Henry Lawson Society Award, and others. She is a member of several poetry associations, and host editor of the Poets Birthdays and Poets of Yesteryear pages for the monthly Australian magazine, FreeXpresSion.

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18 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    What a terrific trio of sea poems. Your island / seashore credentials are clearly on show, Catherine.

    The initial pantoum, ‘Comfort’, is seamless (not a small thing considering the difficulty of the form), and the ‘Plea to the Ocean’ sonnet profound and heartfelt with the archaic language included sounding thoroughly authentic. Is the line ‘I’ve sullied not thy depths of mystery’ referring to the more modern scourge of pollution and the increasing blight of micro-plastics?

    I was particularly impressed with ‘For Love of the Sea’. The sustained voice and imagery and progression reminded me of Wordsworth’s ‘The Prelude’.

    Thanks for the reads.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Actually, “Comfort” isn’t a pantoum. It’s a terzanelle, a form that is a combination of terza rima (like Dante) and a villanelle. A pantoum is a poem with ABAB quatrains, in which lines 2 and 4 of each stanza are repeated in lines 1 and 3 of the next stanza, respectively, except in the last stanza, in which lines 2 and 4 are identical to lines 3 and 1 of the first stanza, respectively. For an example of a pantoum, look at “Peace Be With You” by Susan Jarvis Bryant.

      By the way, Catherine, these are all great! They capture the beauty and majesty of the sea very well. It makes me miss going to the beach… haven’t been in years. Well done!

      • Paul Freeman

        Thanks for that, Joshua. Having written my first pantoum (about tigers of all things) last week, I was a bit unsure. The mechanics of a pantoum are on a sheet of paper on my fridge, the repeat lines marked in red, with arrows, and looking rather like the advances and withdrawals on a First World War battle map.

        Unlike villanelles, with Dylan Thomas’s ‘Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night’ being the most famous example of the form in English, and rondeaux, with McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’ being the most famous example of the form in English, there’s no go to pantoum to study the rhyme scheme. I couldn’t find ‘Peace be with You’, but there are several examples on the site, including the one I used as a guide from a fortnight ago – The Fluctuations of Modernity and Antiquity, by Laurel Aronion.

        This is what I like about the SCP site, though. The challenge to expand beyond rhyming couplets, limericks and sonnets.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        “Peace Be With You” is the first poem here: https://classicalpoets.org/2022/03/02/seeing-the-light-three-poems-by-susan-jarvis-bryant/

        We have an entire category page for pantoums as well: https://classicalpoets.org/category/pantoum/

        Yes, I also like the challenge to expand beyond those three forms you mention. I first heard of all these forms at the Writer’s Digest website section dedicated to this, compiled by Robert Lee Brewer: https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/list-of-50-poetic-forms-for-poets

        I was thrilled to see people here actually using them… Susan is the hands-down champion of the French forms, and seeing her use of them has taught me a lot!

      • Catherine Lee

        Thank you also, Joshua. I’ve not written many terzanelles, but you are quite right in that “Comfort” is one of them! I am so pleased to hear that they captured the essence of the ocean for you in such a manner. Thank you for posting the links as well.

    • Catherine Lee

      Thank you so much, Paul, for your very kind words. I am so pleased you enjoy these poems, and consider it high praise indeed that “For Love of the Sea” reminded you of Wordsworth, one of my favourite poets! (And yes, the scourge of pollution was indeed in my mind when writing that particular line!)

  2. Wayne

    “Her every mood my cares erase—”
    you captured the essence of my visits to the sea shore, lovely

    • Catherine Lee

      Thank you so much, Wayne, for your lovely comment. It is deeply rewarding to me to know this is how you felt upon reading these poems.

    • Catherine Lee

      Thank you very much, Jeremiah, for your thoughtful words. I so much appreciate your kind feedback – and thank you also, for posting the delightful poem by E. E. Cummings!

    • Catherine Lee

      Thank you so much, Anna – one simple word that means a great deal to me. So happy you liked them.

  3. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Catherine, your three exquisite poems are an unparalleled paean expressing enthusiastic praise for those enigmatic oceans and seas that surround us all, in a sense. Your sharing of love for the mysterious workings of the forces of watery nature along with your awe for what transpires there is beautifully portrayed. In other words, I was enchanted by all three and felt the spiritual connections with which you imbued them.

    • Catherine Lee

      Thank you, Roy, for such thoughtfully considered and very kind comments. I am moved by your warm feedback and appreciate your insightful words more than you can know.

  4. Jan

    Catherine, my heart began to ache in response, before reaching the end of “Comfort;” during “Plea…” the tear dam burst with the pain and beauty in your words. I live near the Pacific Ocean and so strongly relate to its draw, emotional balm, and therapeutic power. Thanks for sharing these artistic treasures.

    • Catherine Lee

      Thank you so much, Jan. I can see we are very much “on the same page” when it comes to our feelings for the ocean. This is high praise indeed from you, and I am deeply touched by your warm feedback.

  5. Paul Buchheit

    I thoroughly enjoyed your poems, Catherine, especially the beautifully crafted “Plea to the Ocean.”

    • Catherine Lee

      Sincere thanks, Paul. I’m so glad you liked them and greatly appreciate your very kind and warm feedback.


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