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  • By Agnes Wathall

Sea Fever & Other Poems

Sea Fever

No ancient mariner I,

Hawker of public crosses,

Snaring the passersby

With my necklace of albatrosses.

I blink no glittering eye

Between tufts of gray sea mosses

Nor in the high road ply

My trade of guilts and glosses.

But a dark and inward sky

Tracks the flotsam of my losses.

No more becalmed to lie,

The skeleton ship tosses.

Things Past

If love has cast a shadow where we stood,

There lies on Kensington's sun-sifted grass

Under the leaf-tent of an ancient wood

A subtle shade that Sunday strollers pass.

Along the dark Victorian promenade

Of terraced Thames, between the beams of light,

The silent lips of shadow-clung-to-shade

Embrace with words unspoken in the night.

Wraith of a hand trails in the twirling pools

Left by your oars dipped in the Serpentine.

We who were the sad and festive fools

Are moony phantoms keening, "This was mine."

When braver loves these haunted spots have blessed,

Our lingering ghosts may then be laid to rest.

Agnes Wathall (1907-2004) Unfortunately, we know very little about Agnes Louise Wathall Tatera beyond the fact that she published a small book of poems, A Trick of Light, under her maiden name, Agnes Wathall. The book was published by Braun-Brumfield in 1984. From the book's Acknowledgements page, we have culled the names of a number of journals and sundry publications that published her work: among them The Lyric, Orphic Lute, Orbis, Modern Haiku, Bonsai, Quickenings, Prophetic Voices, Hobby Horse and The Chicago Tribune.—Michael R. Burch



Apr 08, 2023

Agnes Wathall's copyright in these works extends to 2074. If you do not have more information about her from her literary executive, how did you obtain the rights to publish her poems?


Unknown member
Apr 07, 2023

"Sea Fever" is utterly contemporary, reminding one that the modern spirit predates us'ns by many years. At the same time, its speedy lines paradoxically ring Homeric.


Apr 01, 2023

Alice was clearly very talented. I don't know whether she was familiar with the poetry of Pablo Neruda, but there's a distinct touch of Neruda about the phrase 'necklace of albatrosses', in the first poem. Neruda's similar phrase is 'necklace of islands'. Given the timeframe that Michael has provided us with, it is certainly possible. And Neruda, on Isla Negra, was similarly obsessed with the sea.

The second poem is also marvellous and has its own great lines. My personal favourite is: 'Wraith of a hand trails in the twirling pools / Left by oars dipped in the Serpentine.' I can visualise that so clearly. A really intriguing poet!


Mar 30, 2023

These poems are as deep and mysterious and enigmatical as everything else about a writer who was condemned to write good poetry in an age which favoured every sort of nonsense except genuine excellence.

One feels a great need to know more about this poet and her work. Since one feels it must all hang together. And exemplify some sort of unified weltanschaüung. They are like small icebergs accidentally drifted in from some vast and hitherto undiscovered ocean. One is intrigued.

Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
Mar 31, 2023
Replying to

It seems the book I'm looking for is always the last book at the back of the last row!


Mar 29, 2023

These are good poems. But I'm not quite sure who they're by.

Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
Mar 31, 2023
Replying to

I agree. I consider "Sea Fevers" to be a small masterpiece. If the world were fair, that poem would make Agnes Wathall immortal. It should be in all the anthologies.

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