One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand

There is a poem, written in the 16th century, that I think of every time I go to the beach. I have my dear, departed grandfather to thank for knowing it. He passed on his love of classic poetry and literature to his children, and in turn I grew up a little conflicted on spelling, word usage, and a few other archaic sentiments. I remember wondering about that poem as a child, imagining a man so in love with a woman, or so obsessed, that he needed to immortalize her, and why he would pick something that washes away in the first place. He seemed kind of simple, but really passionate!

If you think writing your name in the sand is some marvelous “special” thing you do, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but some English dude was doing it about 450 years ago.

sand writing Africa travel

But don’t worry if you’re one of those sand swooners. We do it too. My husband, especially, loves to find a good stick and log our names, the year, and location, and then becomes almost giddy watching it wash away. Other times he pesters me until I do it, then gleefully waits for the tide.

Mozambique sand writing poem
Kurt’s favorite moment. I’m not sure Edmund Spenser would approve.

Amoretti LXXV: One Day I Wrote her Name

By Edmund Spenser

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
“Vain man,” said she, “that dost in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.”
“Not so,” (quod I) “let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”
sand writing Mozambique Edmund Spenser poem
Or then again, maybe he would.

I’m feeling particularly sentimental today, thinking of my husband’s childlike bliss, Edmund Spenser’s undying love, and listening to the wind bringing Springtime to the world outside my office window. A puffed-up mousebird clings to a branch upside-down, bouncing in the breeze, until he has a turn at the pear on my feeder.

Happy Thursday, readers!

Love, MarLa

African map with Mozambique marked in the colors of her flag.
African map with Mozambique marked in the colors of her flag.

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