30 August 2009

Pacific

Ferdinand Magellan named it Mare Pacificum - The Peaceful Sea. Perhaps he would have given this vast ocean a different name if he had witnessed its more violent moods. Let's note its mind-boggling vital statistics. It covers 30% of The Earth's total surface area and is therefore larger than the total land surface of our planet. Area calculations vary slightly but there are at least 155,000 square kilometres of salty waves. Its average depth is 4,000 metres but at one point, in the western Pacific's Mariana Trench, it is almost 11,000 metres deep. The Pacific has 135,663 kilometres of coastline and contains at least 25,000 islands. You'll like the last fact - I had to search around for this number for quite a while: What is the volume of water in The Pacific Ocean? Answer - An estimated 640,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubic centimetres! That's an awful lot of water.

I have often thought about how the Pacific was populated by the Melanesians, Micronesians and the greatest travellers of all - The Polynesians. With only stars and their instincts to guide them, voyaging in hollowed out canoes, they crossed vast swathes of this ocean, making new settlements in islands as far apart as Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand. That history of migration is quite breathtaking even though little of it is recorded in an easily recognisable manner. Arguably, the early Polynesians were the bravest seafarers of all. What drove them onwards across the blue ocean we shall probably never know. Were they looking for something or were they escaping?

What do western people know of The Pacific, this vast body of water that covers almost a third of our planet? Mostly we know nothing. Many of us know more about The Moon than we do about that "peaceful sea".

Mare Pacificum

These waves are surely endless

Their rhythm like the very pulse of our world

This sky is entire and by night

It reveals the same stars that guided our forefathers

Pull harder Amanaki whose name means hope

Beyond this horizon we shall see distant clouds

A wisp of pale grey smoke faraway

Marking the island where Tangaroa dwelt

In faraway times before waking and sleeping

Before he made the flying fishes and the rain

And it is there that we shall make our home.

9 comments:

  1. I think a return visit to your spiruitual home must be on the cards this autumn.

    Stopping off on the Pacific coast highway again and coming back via BKK of course...

    By the way, why the littering with deleted posts on my blog, I hope they weren't rude messages!

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  2. I like this poem. Very insightful. It seems even more primitive without punctuation of any kind.

    Pull harder Amanaki!

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  3. It also reminded me of Frodo and the elves leaving Middle Earth....

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  4. interesting blog!

    I lived in Hillsborough for 16 years by the way

    john

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  5. Mr BOOTH - Me write a rude message? How dare you sir!
    RHYMES WITH I often think that a line change is a more significant form of punctuation than the little marks we use habitually in prose. I am gratified that you connected with the poem - for the thought of those Pacific migrations has been in the back of my mind for almost forty years.
    JOHN GRAY Pleased you popped by from your animal sanctuary! Have you got any thoughts on The Pacific, my post or the poem I specially wrote to close it?

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  6. YP, have you ever read Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl? If not, I think you would enjoy it.

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  7. My favorite part of this whole post is that you used "its" properly. The poem's not bad either, though I think it's shockingly lacking in uttrances of "Hey nonny nonny" and ""Lo, therefore goeth my spirit aching for the moon". There's too much imagery and evocative mood! The poem reminds me of the movements of waves, and that just bothers me.

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  8. Pay no attention to Brad the Gorilla. He doesn't know what he's talking about (as he's said so many times, he is nobody's sock puppet). I grew up on the Atlantic side of my country, and even after 10 years, the Pacific is still a novelty to me. I enjoyed reading you poem, too.

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  9. Dipped my toes in it at the weekend.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.