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    Bon voyage Essay

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    Moods, colors and people of the deep blue sea are portrayed in “The Sound of Waves” and ” The Odyssey”. Albeit the distance in time and space the Mediterranean sea of Homer and the Pacific Ocean of Mishima are alive with alike aspects.

    The Odyssey, epic poem written by the blind Homer in ancient Greek around 700 B.C. narrates the heroic story of Odysseus and his adventures at sea.

    The sound of waves, Japanese novel of Yukio Mishima portrays the course of love between two young habitants of Uta-Jima, the song island that “lies directly in the straits connecting the gulf with the Pacific Ocean”.[1]

    Both books, the first being a poem, and the second for the gentle rate of words chosen to describe the sea put great emphasis in the poetry of the sea’s essence and effects. The sea is portrayed, in its descriptions with the use of a great range of metaphors, colors and symbols.

    Homer defines the sea as being very different according to the circumstances. The adjectives are strong, like “wild sea”[2], and give a powerful overview of the mighty sea. In his descriptions, the Mediterranean can be a “grey” “high wind sea” [3] with “dark water”[4] and “Grey ocean tides”[5], a “fathomless unresting sea”[6] but also a noble, “great sea”[7], a “misty sea”[8].

    He uses repetition to give the idea of a “wine dark sea[9]” used in books I, II, IV, V, VII, XII and XIII. Other colors are used to make the reader picture the “grey sea[10]”, “the deep blue sea[11]”, “the violet sea[12]” and “the salt blue sea”[13].

    Whereas, Mishima describes it as being a “calm sea”[14] with “cold waters”[15] at times. He uses personification to give us an image of “the sea shaped like some amorphous, mysterious helmet.”[16] He doesn’t differ as much as Homer with the shades and colors but does draw it as being “The dark indigo sea”[17] and then having “opulent dark-blue waves on the open sea”[18].

    A considerable metaphor used throughout the entire Odyssey about four times in books I, XIV and XV is Thelemachus’s irony in making fun of the people who arrive on Ithaca asking them “Who are your sailors? I don’t suppose you walked here on the sea”[19], with this, he plays a joke and teases them as it is impossible to walk over the sea. This allows him to get people to tell him what he wants to hear.

    In the sound of waves the image of the butterfly that flies above the sea “Soaring high, the butterfly was trying to fly away from the island, directly into the sea breeze. Mild though it seemed, the breeze tore at the butterfly’s tender wings”[20] again recalls the idea of being above the sea. The butterfly is affected by the wind that makes her struggle to fly away from the island over the sea.

    Both books rely in great means to the existence of Gods that control the course of the sea. In the sound of waves we are told, in the first pages that the island is “dedicated to Watasumi-no-Mikoto, god of the sea.” The Odyssey, on the other hand brings forth Odysseus’s struggles to go home due to Poseidon, god of the sea. Gods are benevolent in some cases like Athena that takes care of both Odysseus and his inexperienced son. “Grey-eyed Athena stirred them a following wind, soughing from the north-west on the wine dark sea, and as he felt the wind, Telèmakhos called to all hands to break out mast and sail”[21]. Zeus though, is responsible of all therefore he controls other Gods “Zeus who views the wide world sent a gloom over the ocean and a howling gale come on with seas increasing, mountainous, parting the ships and driving half toward Crete”[22]. The youngest habitants of Uta-Jima, friends of Shinji’s brother, invoke the God of the sea in chapter 10 by playing games inside the cave causing “The waters set the cavern to rumbling and swaying; and it seemed as though the sea were looking for a chance to snatch even these three Indians, seated in a circle within the stone room, and pull them into its depths”[23].

    Shinji prays to God for him to give him calm seas and “Let me have much knowledge in the ways of sea”[24]. In the same way, Telèmakhos, in book II “walked down along the shore and washed his hands in the foam of the grey sea, then said his prayer”[25]; he finds strength in the sea and believes in help from the divine. Odysseus, instead, wounds Poseidon’s rage by blinding his son, the Cyclops Poliphemo. This brings him, “Poseidon Lord, who sets the earth a-tremble”[26] to break up the rocks at the island’s ends causing a storms that makes Odysseus’s ship wreck at shore.

    The moods of the sea fluctuate through the books, sometimes it is calm and brings good things to lands and people and sometimes it troubles deeply.

    In the Odyssey the sea is pictured as being coarse most of the times, when visiting the underworld, Odysseus’s dead mother announces him that he will have trouble with the sea, “Child, how could you crow alive into this gloom at the world’s end? – No sight of living eyes; great currents run between, desolate waters, the Ocean first, where no man goes a journey without ship’s timber under him”[27]. Nonetheless, when Odysseus finally finds his way home after his painful struggle for survival, in book XXIV the sea is calm and in harmony with him. “He led them down dank ways, over grey Ocean tides, the Snowy Rock, past shores of Dream and narrows of the sunset, in swift flight to where the Dead inhabit wastes of asphodel at the world’s end.”[28]

    In the sound of waves the sea is portrayed as being benevolent most of the times, “ The sea- it only brings the good and right things that the island needs…and keeps the good and right things we already have.”[29]

    Throughout the book though we do face sharp times when “the roar of the waves came as persistently as the garrulity of a drunk man”[30] with this simile the author accentuates the strength of the sea that although when at peace and “the roar of the waves became a little quieter”[31] it is described as being beautifully gratifying “Clear water flowed out from between moss-covered rocks, into a stone cistern, and the brimmed over one edge of the stone”[32] It can be terribly rude “with a storm, raging seas and the wind that shrieked as it came tearing through the prostrate treetops.”[33]

    In the odyssey the roughness of the sea is controlled by the gods “Homing, they wronged the goddess with grey eyes, who made a black wind blow and the sea rise”[34], Odysseus faces rough times with angry seas that make him risk his life “swollen from head to foot he was, and seawater gushed from his mouth and nostrils”[35]. In book V Poseidon builds up a storm, “the winds drove his wreck over the deep” almost killing Odysseus that is eventually saved after being scattered against the rocks, he is brought back to shore after his ship is wrecked with the help of the goddess Athena of whom he was favourite. Thanks to his prayers he is able to swim out of it.

    Nonetheless, he is seen as a hero for surviving all the rage that storms and Poseidon play on him during his journey; “He heard the trampling roar of the sea on rock, where combers, rising shoreward, thudded down on the sucking ebb-all sheeted with salt foam.“[36] Odysseus in fact, is remembered still today for his great bravery and as the “master of land and sea ways”[37] like Shinji that proves to uncle Turu, by swimming at sea during the storm and with great courage pulling on board the great fish catch that he is worthy of marrying his daughter.

    At night, the sea has a different aspect in both books it is described as being incredibly mystic, in the Odyssey we are introduced to the idea of a progress that brings the darkness of night where as in the sound of waves, night falls on the Ocean directly.

    In the first book as night comes “The rose Dawn might have found them weeping still had not grey-eyed Athena slowed the night when night was most profound, and held the Dawn under the Ocean of the East.”[38] When travelling at sea, the night saves much time because it allows them to continue their route but as we see in book IX of the poem, it makes the sea go remarkably rough, “….veils of squall moved down like night on land and sea. The bows went plunging at the guts; sails cracked and lashed out strips in the big wind.”[39] Also the Tokachi-maru travels at night, here, we see how when there is no light, sailors are in the situations of having nothing else but the sea as they are not able to see anything around them, ”The vast expanse of the gulf of isle was completely hidden by the night”[40] this, amplifies the sensations brought by the night that is also perceived as being a calm peaceful moment, “The roar of the sea, surprisingly enough, gave the infinite night that enveloped them a quality of frenzied serenity.”[41]

    Accordingly, the Mediterranean sea and the Pacific Ocean both have a tremendous repercussion on islands and islanders that are affected by its storms and it’s calmness, the sea is a means of life for the people that live on islands, it is a necessity for trade and food but also it connects to the people of the sea in some curious way.

    Although deceived by the sea “The light on the sea rim gladdened Odysseus”[42] and as Shinji heard the sound of the waves striking the shore, it was as though the surging of young blood was keeping time with the movement of the sea’s great tides”.[43] The sea is taken as a counsel to its people that with its movement and its light find themselves and feel the peace.

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    Bon voyage Essay. (2017, Dec 05). Retrieved from

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