To my friend Thomas B. Mosher
(To whom I dedicate this little book)
You ask of me a few words for this seadrift from Sundown Shores, to tell you that you are free to take up and give to others what in a sense is not mine to give; for when I first let them go from me I put them upon a tide whose way I did not know, and left them to a wind whose sheparding was not for me to guide or check.
It is a pleasure to me, but not all a pleasure, to see these writings reprinted. Who, loving an art whose spell has always something of despair in it, could without regret see that given again to new and curious readers which one would gladly have done better, and would now see comelier and fitter?
And yet, this feeling is perhaps only the dream of those unquiet minds who are the children of water. Long ago, when Manannan, the God of wind and sea, offspring of Lir the Oceanus of the Gael, lay once by weedy shores, he heard a man and a woman talking. The woman was a woman of the sea, and some say that she was a seal: but that is no matter, for it was in the time when the divine race and the human race and the soulless race and the dumb races that are near to man were all one race. And Manannan heard the man say: 'I will give you love and home and peace.' The sea-woman listened to that, and said: 'And I will bring you the homelessness of the sea, and the peace of the restless wave, and love like the wandering wind.' At that the man chided her, and said she could be no woman though she had his love. She laughed, and slid into the green water. Then Manannan took the shape of a youth, and appeared to the man. 'You are a strange love for a sea-woman,' he said: 'and why do you go putting your earth-heart to her sea-heart?' The man said he did not know, but that he had no pleasure in looking at women who were all the same. At that Manannan laughed a low laugh. 'Go back,' he said, 'and take one you'll meet singing on the heather. She's white and fair. But because of your lost love of the water, I'll give you a gift.' And with that Manannan took a wave of the sea and threw it into the man's heart. He went back and wedded and when his hour came he died. But he, and the children he had, and all the unnumbered clan that came of them, knew by day and by night a love that was tameless and changable as the wandering wind, and a longing that was unquiet as the restless wave, and the homelessness of the sea. And that is why they are called the Silochd-na-mara, the clan of the waters, or the Treud-na-thonn, the tribe of the sea-wave.
And of that clan are some who have turned their longing after the wind and wave of the mind ..... the wind that would overtake the waves and gather them and lift them into clouds of beauty drifting in the blue glens of the sky.
How are these ever to be satisfied, children of water?