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Reading No. 34Jump to the latest reading

Horatio Clare
Author + adventurer
Recorded at Penzance Literary Festival

Justin Brice Guariglia
Reduce Speed Now!

This Hermit good lives in that wood
Which slopes down to the sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears!
He loves to talk with marineres
That come from a far countree.

He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve—
He hath a cushion plump:
It is the moss that wholly hides
The rotted old oak-stump.

The skiff-boat neared: I heard them talk,
'Why, this is strange, I trow!
Where are those lights so many and fair,
That signal made but now?'

We set sail from San Diego—the sun came up upon the left—towards the San Ignacio Lagoon. Discovered by whalers 60 years after the Rime was first published, it became a scene of slaughter. Many men were killed, too, by mothers defending their calves, gaining the grey whales their nickname: Devil Fish. Yet these whales made a remarkable recovery and numbers are now believed to be around 30,000 animals. Even more surprising, they approach the whalewatch boats. When mothers push up their newborn calves towards the boats, you can’t help wonder why these whales seek our company. The caress of our hands spans an abyss of abuse and apology.

An albatross wheeled overhead. The recovery of the eastern Pacific grey whale population might provide a shimmer of hope. Genetic analysis of skin and blubber samples — collected by crossbow — indicate that whales from the eastern Pacific are migrating into the western Pacific. A growing grey whale population in the Pacific might even mean that grey whales will recolonize the North Atlantic, moving through newly-free polar waters. The ice was all between. But it’s not, not anymore.

Jeroen Hoekendijk