Friday, August 7, 2009

The Outermost House (2). Henry Beston.

The Outermost House (2): A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod. Henry Beston. New York: The Viking Press. 1928 (1956).

Why read it? Like Thoreau at Walden, Beston took up a solitary residence in a cottage on the beach where he could observe the life of the sand and the dunes and the moods of the ocean.

Sample ideas and quotes:

“The sea has many voices…hollow boomings…heavy roarings, great watery tumblings and tramplings, long hissing seethes, sharp, rifle shot reports, splashes, whispers, the grinding undertone of stones, and sometimes vocal sounds that might be the half-heard talk of people in the sea.” p. 43.

“The ocean…constantly changing its tempo, its pitch, its accent, and its rhythm, being now loud and thundering, now almost placid, now furious now grave and solemn-slow, now a simple measure, now a rhythm monstrous with a sense of purpose and elemental will.” p. 44.

“Every mood of the wind, every change in the day’s weather, every phase of the tide—all these have subtle sea musics all their own.” p. 44.

“…the surf process must be understood as mingled and continuous, waves hurrying after waves, interrupting waves, washing back on waves, overwhelming waves.” p. 47.

“Away from the beach, the various sounds of the surf melt into one great thundering symphonic roar…an endless, distant elemental cannonade.” p. 47.

“I can watch a fine surf for hours, taking pleasure in all its wild plays and variations.” p. 53.

“We lose a great deal, I think, when we lose this sense and feeling for the sun….the adventure of the sun is the great natural drama by which we live….” p. 59.

“That multiplicity of insect tracks, those fantastic ribbons which grasshoppers, promenading flies, spiders, and beetles printed on the dunes as they went about their hungry and mysterious purposes, have come to an end in this world of winter….” p. 65.

To be continued.

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