Tony Williams writes: What I like most here is the way the deep-sleeping eel’s steadfast goodness is refusing to get into a slanging match with the perverse marine, presumably because it knows it is ‘That Which Cannot Be Fixed’, so is saving its watery breath. I’m surprised to note there is no golden solvent here, though. Ooh aah.
You are correct, Tony! The line is "Sleep deep, good eel, in your perverse marine" from part one of "Two Versions of the Same Poem."
Two Versions of the Same Poem
That Which Cannot Be Fixed
Once more he turned to that which could not be
By the sea, insolid rock, stentor, and said:
Lascar, is there a body, turbulent
With time, in wavering water lies, swollen
With thought, through which it cannot see? Does it
Lie lengthwise like the cloud of sleep, not quite
Reposed? And does it have a puissant heart
To toll its pulses, vigors of its self?
Lascar, and water-carcass never-named,
These vigors make, thrice-triple-syllabled,
The difficult images of possible shapes,
That cannot now be fixed. Only there is
A beating and a beating in the centre of
The sea, a strength that tumbles everywhere,
Like more and more becoming less and less,
Like space dividing its blue and by division
Being changed from space to the sailor's metier,
Or say from that which was conceived to that
Which was realized, like reason's constant ruin.
Sleep deep, good eel, in your perverse marine.
The human ocean beats against this rock
Of earth, rises against it, tide by tide,
Continually. And old John Zeller stands
On his hill, watching the rising and falling, and
Of what are these the creatures, what element
Or--yes: what elements, unreconciled
Because there is no golden solvent here?
If they were creatures of the sea alone,
But singular, they would, like water, scale
The uptopping top and tip of things, borne up
By the cadaver of these caverns, half-asleep.
But if they are of sea, earth, sky--water
And fire and air and things not discomposed
From ignorance, not an undivided whole,
It is an ocean of watery images
And shapes of fire, and wind that bears them
Perhaps these forms are seeking to escape
Cadaverous ululations. Rest, old mould...
Ana Bozicevic-Bowling, who is my sister in haircuts, wrote in with the correct answer a very short while after Tony, so I am making her the runner-up and she will get a prize as well. I finally decided what the prizes will be: they are valuable beyond comprehension, I'll say that much, and I'll announce them tomorrow.