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July 6, 2021

Surf in Verse, 2021 Edition



The Song of the Surf

By Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870)

Publication Start Year: 1867

From Sea Spray and Smoke Drift (1867)

White steeds of ocean, that leap with a hollow and

wearisome roar

On the bar of ironstone steep, not a fathom’s length

from the shore,

Is there never a seer nor sophist can interpret your

wild refrain,

When speech the harshest and roughest is seldom

studied in vain?

My ears are constantly smitten by that dreary


In a hieroglyphic ’tis written — ’tis spoken in a

tongue unknown;

Gathering, growing, and swelling, and surging, and

shivering, say!

What is the tale you are telling? what is the drift of

your lay?

You come, and your crests are hoary with the foam

of your countless years;

You break, with a rainbow of glory, through the

spray of your glittering tears.

Is your song a song of gladness? a paean of joyous


Or a wail of discordant sadness for the wrongs you

never can right?

For the empty seat by the ingle? for children reft of

their sire?

For the bride, sitting sad, and single, and pale, by the

flickering fire?

For your ravenous pools of suction? for your

shattering billow swell?

For your ceaseless work of destruction? for your

hunger insatiable?

Not far from this very place, on the sand and the

shingle dry,

He lay, with his batter’d face upturned to the

frowning sky.

When your waters wash’d and swill’d high over his

drowning head,

When his nostrils and lungs were filled, when his

feet and hands were as lead,

When against the rock he was hurl’d, and suck’d

again to the sea,

On the shores of another world, on the brink of


On the verge of annihilation, did it come to that

swimmer strong,

The sudden interpretation of your mystical weird-

like song?

‘Mortal! that which thou askest, ask not thou of the


Fool! thou foolishly taskest us–we are only slaves;

Might, more mighty, impels us–we must our lot


He who gathers and swells us curbs us, too, at His


Think’st thou the wave that shatters questioneth His


Little to us matters, and naught it matters to thee.

Not thus, murmuring idly, we from our duty would


Over the world spread widely ever we labour and


Original Text: Poems, ed. Robert A.

Thompson (London and Melbourne: A. H.

Massina, 1920). Sydney Electronic Text and

Image Service (SETIS), digital text sponsored

by Australian Digital Collections, The

University of Sydney


‘Surf Before Sunrise,’ The Mel-Tones (1998)


The Crashing Waves


The surfers are waiting eagerly like a bird watching its prey.

Suddenly an enormous tunnelling wave grabs them like a giant’s fist.

The excited surfers start to bob in the waves

Starting to stand up above the world.

The crashing waves slaughter the surfers.

The shimmering, ice blue waves settle as the gleaming

burning sun goes down.

The surfers carry on surfing in the warm sea by the moon light.

Not worried about the time. Not worried about anything.

People leave but the surfers carry on.

–By Becky

Posted by year5ringmer on July 8, 2008

From The Otter Class Blog (Our lives at Ringmer Primary School)


‘Miserlou,’ the surf classic performed by Dick Dale and The Del-Tones in the 1963 film A Swinging’ Affair


The ice cold waves

wash me into the distance,

like a bird gliding,


further and further,

until nothing can be seen,

but a crashing sea,

glimmering like a crystal

in the scorching sun.

–By Stevie

July 8, 2008 The Otter Class Blog (Our lives at Ringmer Primary School)


The ‘superstition and dread’ of Waimea Bay, circa 1957, from the film Riding Giants, a 2004 documentary directed and narrated by skater/surfer Stacy Peralta and focusing on the evolution of surfing at Hawaii’s Waimea Bay. Surfers featured include big wave riding legend Greg Noll.


Surf n’ Summer 

By KP Nunez


Into the wake of waves he rides.

The surfer glides like bird in flight.

He slips, gets up, head on collides, into the wake of waves he rides.

His graceful dance with winds and tides

shows love for ocean at first sight.

Into the wake of waves he rides;

the surfer glides like bird in flight.

From Surf Love Poems or Love Poems

About Surf @


‘Gotta take that one last ride…’ Jan and Dean, ‘Ride the Wild Surf,’ title song from the 1964 film directed by Don Taylor and featuring some outstanding big wave surf footage along with a script that attempted to portray surfers and surf culture seriously. The big waves at Waimea Bay were as much the star of the film as any of the actors (Fabian, Tab Hunter, Peter Brown, Shelley Fabares, Susan Hart).


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