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Monday, July 17, 2006

Literary waves

Fluctuations at the ocean surface, in the form of surface wind generated waves, are probably the most easily visible part of the oceanographic environments. Any casual observer who strolling along a beach or riding onboard a ship, would inevitably dazzled by the awesome power and beauty of the ubiquitous existence of the ceaseless surface fluctuations that marks a “rapidly changing, intricately woven boundary between water and air.” The vivid impressions of wind waves have inspired ample scientific imaginations as well as literary achievements.

The close connection between wind and waves was clearly noted around 11th century BC as Homer described in Iliad that

when the sea runs high before a gale –
for it is the force of wind
that makes the waves so great


As when a wave, raised mountain high by wind and storm,
breaks over a ship and covers it deep in foam

Later on in history we found this observation in James 1:7

“. . . like a wave of the sea that is driven
and tossed about by the wind.”

Later still, around the tenth century, Fung Yen-Sze (903-960), a Chinese poet and probably not a sea going sailor, ably observed that

The wind suddenly rises, and ruffles
the surface of the newly melted pond. . .”

Nevertheless, if we can somehow manage to enjoy watching waves safely without worrying about freaque waves or storms, we can certainly always bear to be poetic! But how calm and poetic can you still be when your boat is heading into a mountainous wall of water?

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