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  • Writer's pictureTony Frobisher

The Sounds of Sea Fret

The Sounds of Sea Fret

Grey wave spume,

An iciness in the wind.

A distant ship passing in a slow blur.

Hesitant, uncertain in the gathering gloom.

The impatience of winter darkness

Ushering in the waiting fog,

Persistent and wool-thick

Without a hint of warmth.

Now the lighthouse rouses itself

From daytime slumbers,

The night shift resumed.

Cliff perched, stoic, weathered,

Unbeaten, a silent witness to

Puffing hikers and gull patrols.

Resolute in the face of storm

Torrents and wind-lashings.

The ship ploughs further into the darkness

As the fog descends, erasing distance and

Obliterating the horizon line.

The ship wrapped and smothered,

A spectral vision, cloaked in absence.

Blink and the ship has gone.

Weathered, eaten, consumed

By the ravenous fog.

Now, the lighthouse tunes itself

In preparation for the night music;

Concerto for Foghorn in B minor.

350 Hertz pulsating in waves above

The waves, penetrating the murk.

Rumbling, rhythmic, resonant, repeated.

While the light listens, immobile, redundant

In the all-enveloping sea fret.

The ship pitches and bows.

A stern gratitude, greeting the mournful

Foghorn moans like an old friend and mentor,

Guide us, lead us, protect us.

The lighthouse is a misnomer tonight.

No light emanates nor illumines safe passage.

Yet the foghorn notes

Are the brightest of all.


There is much that is melancholy around the sea - the eerie fog and mists, the dark ink water under storm clouds, the mournful low resonance of the foghorn and the sombre flashing of the lighthouse. I have long been fascinated by lighthouses - now automated of course. I have often wondered what the life of a lighthouse keeper was like, and indeed, those on board passing ships dependent upon and thankful for the presence of the lighthouses, their guiding beacons of light and fog warnings.

The Sounds of Sea Fret.

Fret meaning to worry or be anxious about, as a fog enveloped ship captain would be. But 'sea fret' is another expression that means 'sea fog.'

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