A marvelous moment shared by the poet Elizabeth Bishop, conveying a connection across species and elements, as a seal allows a human to sing for him, a common interest in music binding them across the water-land divide.

One seal particularly

I have seen here evening after evening.

He was curious about me.  He was interested in music;

like me a believer in total immersion,

so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
I also sang ‘A Mighty Fortress is Our God.’

He stood up in the water and regarded me

steadily, moving his head a little.

Meet another seal, falling over itself in affection, and one big old boy who was so powerful he could afford to be gentle.

Source: Elizabeth Bishop, ‘At the Fishhouses’, quoted in Seamus Heaney, Finders Keepers: Selected prose 1971-2001 (London: Faber and Faber, 2003), p. 186.  The full poem can be found at the Poetry Foundation.

Photo credit: Keith Luke at unsplash


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