music, poetry, sailing, Sea of Cortez, Stars, Troy Armstrong, universe
One of my poems has been set to music. An amazing composer, Troy Armstrong, emailed me earlier this year and told me how he had found one of my early blog posts called “Swimming Among the Stars,” which featured a poem I had written long ago. He was so moved by the poem he set it to music.
His choral piece is called “Swimming Among the Stars,” and while I was thrilled and honored that he should do such a thing, I was blown away by the song itself, which is hauntingly beautiful. You can listen to it at the link above.
While it’s meant to be sung and he’s working on having it recorded by a choral group, what you hear below is from a synthesizer. Even so it’s incredible . . . tell me what you think. I’m so deeply humbled by it. You might want to visit his website and hear more of his music. Some created for orchestra, string quartets, solo instruments, and voice.
The poem and part of the post that inspired this music is copied below, or you can read the original here, which included a night swim. It was written when we were sailing across the Sea of Cortez one moonless night. Here’s what I wrote in that post:
We sail across the universe on the back of a tiny planet at the edge of a galaxy that swirls around us. Too often we forget that–how embedded we really are in the universe.
I became acutely aware of this one night when we were crossing the Sea of Cortez from Baja to mainland Mexico. There was no wind, no moon. The sea was perfectly still like the surface of a dark mirror, marred only by our trailing wake.
Above us the bare mast stirred a billion stars, which were reflected in the sea’s surface below. I felt like we were on a starship sailing through the cosmos. Later that night I wrote this:
Night Crossing, Sea of Cortez
The sea appears so simple
With a dark, indulgent face
The stars there twice reflected
Like a world spun out of space
Our sloop shoots through the cosmos
Through a mute and moonless night
Our wake a fiery comet
Streaming effervescent light
With all the universe inert
We slip from star to star
Then reach across the Milky Way
Toward galaxies afar
Eons swirl, light-years unfurl
And none can still our flight
Leaping toward the infinite
To apprehend the light.
I’m not alone in seeing the overlap between the ocean and the night sky. Various artists are fond of depicting whales and dolphins and other sea creatures swimming among the stars.
The ocean and the universe stand at the edge of the wild, the last two true frontiers we have to explore, except for the human consciousness, of course. The ocean and the universe have become symbols for consciousness as well as adventure.
We seem to grasp that there is something that connects all three—some deep, dreamy, ever-flowing, ungraspable, powerful yet nurturing element in which we all are steeped. That calls us to move beyond ourselves, beyond the safe and familiar, the already known. That inspires us to reach for something that lies just beyond our grasp.
I’m still reaching. Are you?