People that build their houses inland,
People that buy a plot of ground
Shaped like a house, and build a house there,
Far from the sea-board, far from the sound
Of water sucking the hollow ledges,
Tons of water striking the shore —
What do they long for, as I long for
One salt smell of the sea once more?
People the waves have not awakened,
Spanking the boats at the harbor’s head,
What do they long for, as I long for, —
Starting up in my inland bed,
Beating the narrow walls, and finding
Neither a window nor a door,
Screaming to God for death by drowning —
One salt taste of the sea once more?
-Edna St. Vincent Millay
I’ve been haunted by this poem, especially the desperation of that final stanza. The claustrophobia of “finding / neither a window nor a door.” The absolute devastation of “screaming to God for death by drowning”. It’s so extreme, so profound.