Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 42 - Let’s talk about Culture and ….. the Sea



La mer – (Beyond the sea) - qu’on voit danser le long des golfes clairs – a des reflets d’argent – La mer – des reflets changeants – sous la pluie  - who does not know this beautiful romantic song composed and first sung by Charles Trenet in the 1940s. The theme tune of the early morning radio programme in Luanda, Angola I woke up to.

This song represents best the longing that overcomes people when they are sitting in their office at a rainy cold day and they dream of the sea, anywhere, and for once in a year they make their dreams come true. To plunge into the warm embrace of the sea to let go of all hardship, lie on the back and feel at home. It is where they hope to get back their strength. Do we get drawn to the sea because it represents the primordial soup,  primordial mother? The very beginning where we come from?

The Sea that never changes, perhaps getting bigger with the pole caps melting, there we stand by the coast and look beyond it; the longing for the sea automatically contains the longing for other coasts, for the root of the rainbow, for treasures and happiness, for the fulfillment of our longing for something we don’t know.  I know about it since one day in our life we decided to build our own boat and go to do just that, exploring the coasts and meeting with the unknown we have always been chasing for.

The Sea, theme for many poets and authors: The Old Man and the Sea by E. Hemingway¸ the early science fiction by Jules Verne: 20000 leagues under the sea; my favourite books in my childhood were the seagoing adventurers, explorers such as Captain Cook, all the pirates of the Caribbean, Bartholomeus Diaz, Christopher Colombus,; there is an endless list of them.



I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,


I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.


Writing poetry or a novel is very similar to the experience of the sea and I know quite a number of poets that entrust their thoughts to the wide unknown kingdom of mystery. In mythology we find many beings that inhabit the deep seas, we find them in all ancient mythologies around the world, the Greek, Romans and Egyptians had their own gods; the Germans, Finns and Irish had them; the Aztecs and the Maori certainly honoured their own.

Remember the sirens Odysseus had to fight off. This painful longing to let go and join those deep in the sea. The mermaids and sea monsters that are at home in the depths of the ocean and heavy storms have often been regarded by the seafaring men as unleashed by mysterious powers.  The rumours of lost airplanes and ships in the Bermuda Triangle or Devil’s Triangle, do we not tend to believe the weird stories?

The sea that can be good to us, nourishes us, can get mad at us and develop enormous deadly seas to devour vast stretches of land and with its thousands of people. We with all our high technologies are helpless in front of this almighty energy. Après moi le deluge, we often say lightly as if it would not concern us when islands of plastic rotate in the vastness of the Atlantic carried together by the streams of the world oceans.

Also here on Cypriot coasts, especially on the Western beaches where we love to go along to air our system in the winter months, where the turtles still come ashore to lay their eggs, those have to swim alongside rubbish thrown into the sea in countries west of us.

How delightful it is though to sit with the anglers on the wall of Kyrenia harbour and wait for the sun to set beyond the western horizon.







Coast near Lapta : painting by Heidi Trautmann
Coast near Lapta : painting by Heidi Trautmann

Old harbour in Kyrenia - winter storm
Old harbour in Kyrenia - winter storm

Storm in Kyrenia harbour
Storm in Kyrenia harbour

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