Marine Institute

Odes to Our Ocean

For centuries, the sea has had a powerful presence in poetry. Both wild and calm, dangerous and beautiful, the sea has always captured our hearts and minds with its magic and mystery. From the infinite deep sea to the seashore, the ocean has evoked compelling imagery touching all the human senses and emotions. 

The sea has inspired well-known poets such as Ireland's beloved Seamus Heaney, and American poets Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. Dickinson often wrote about the sea but it's believed she did so from her imagination, having never actually visited the ocean. Other writers who have been captured by the sea's imagery include famous children's writer Lewis Carroll, and Irish poet and much-loved TV presenter Pat Ingoldsby. Poet Robin McNamara, living in Waterford city has also kindly shared his poem The Fisherman for the Marine Institute's Odes to Our Ocean. His poem is about the sacrifice and dangers faced by fishermen who fish the seas off Dunmore East, Co Waterford. 

This selection of poems celebrates the power of our seas and oceans as part of Poetry Day Ireland. Download these poems inspired by the sea from the images below. 

I started Early - Took my Dog, by Emily DickinsonThe Fisherman by Robin McNamaraLovers on Aran by Seamus HeaneyThe Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis CarrollDo you know what the sea is able to do? by Pat IngoldsbyAs I Ebb'd with the Oceanof Life by Walt Whitman Quote by Sylvia EarleQuote by Leonardo da VinciQuote by Sir David AttenboroughQuote by Jacques Yves Cousteau Quote by John F. KennedyQuote by Robert WylandQuote by Cecelia AhernQuote by Heinrich Zimmer Quote by Anne StevensonQuote by Sarah Kay