Colours of the Sea
When you stand right on the coast you get wrap-around vistas of the sea. If you live a mile inland, as I do, you must be content with glimpses of the sea between the hills. Every day I walk my dog on the hills over-looking the sea in Perran Bay. I can see an inverted triangle of water, framed between the sky above, the slopes of Bolingey on the left and the Perranporth sand dunes on the right; a few miles of horizon and just a yard or two of beach. Within its frame, every day the sea looks a different colour.
The Cornish language has a word “GLAS” that covers almost all eventualities. So, whether the sea is blue, grey or green I can say, “Glas ew an mor”.
Glas ew an mor hedhyw.
That means “Today the sea is blue”.
Not the bright acrylic blues
Some postcard-buyers and painters choose,
But inky blue, Quinky blue.
Dip-your-pen-in writers’ blue.
Glas ew an mor hedhyw.
Again, “Today the sea is blue.”
Not aquamarine or turquoise blue,
Or David Hockney swimming pool blue,
But something more of a subtle hue.
Blue and grey and greeny, too.
Ma cabmdhavas reb an mor.
A shattered rainbow is on the shore.
The wind is whisking a mist of spray,
Catching the late sun’s slanting ray,
And the sea behind is dark as night,
Enhancing the spectrum of scattered light.
Yesterday the sea was grey.
Not wishy washy ashy grey,
But Little Grey Rabbit furry grey,
With a white under-belly hiding away
On the edge of the sand in Perran Bay.
Hedhyw o an mor brithys gen glas.
Today the sea was striped with greys.
Like a faded badger, not quite black and white,
With its head and tail hidden from sight,
Light by the sky and darker near me.
I was waiting for “brogh” to rise from the sea.
Na ellama gwelas an mor hedhyw.
I can’t see the sea, hidden from view,
By low clouds dropping a veil of hail,
Obscuring horizon and shore-line as well.
And the tide is in, so I cannot see
Where the edge of the sea should be.
Leun a liw o an mor hedhyw.
The rain had rinsed the sky right through
And all the colour had washed into the sea.
White above and black beneath
With streaks of purple and brown, to show
Where the sandbanks were down below.
Tho glas an vorr a moas dhe’n mor.
The road was wet from the night before
Reflecting blue sky in patches of rain.
I must go down to the sea again.
The sea was grey and the road was too,
But at least the road had patches of blue
En mettin ma me eth dhe’n treath.
I went to the beach, and caught my breath,
For the sea’d been rough at the last high tide
And the pools in the sand spread far and wide,
Reflecting the sky and clouds above –
Halcyon blue and grey of dove.
Melin ha glas ew an mor hedhyw.
Under the sea it’s no longer blue.
Under the sea it’s a different scene,
No longer blue, just yellowy-green.
Sand and alga and filtered out red,
It’s a world of green down by the sea bed.
Glas o an mor hedhyw.
I took my paints but couldn’t choose
The perfect shade from all my range.
Each time I looked there was a change.
Blue-grey-green, depends on whether
I’m out in dull or sunny weather.