Posts Tagged ‘North Sea’

North Sea Lyrik: SPRINGTIME IN SYLT (Satis Shroff)


Sylt at Dawn (Satis Shroff)


You hear the waves

As they splash onto the shore.

You haven’t opened your eyey,

But you discern the cries of sea gulls,

As you slowly let the sunlight

Into your eyes.


Ah, the reassuring rays caress your face,

As you proceed to the balcony,

Stretch yourself

And let out cha-cha-cha,

Pa-pa-pa sounds between your teeth,

That you’ve learned

While singing in your choir.


A seagull with a fish in its beak

Flutters by.

All white and airborne,

Twinkling on a blue sky.

Out in the horizon,

A turquoise blue trawler chugs by.




Habitat for Wild (Satis Shroff)


The flora and fauna

have a hard time

In winter.


The white mantle

Of snow covers

The branches, buds and barks.


The owl loves winter

As it takes in all

Beings that move,

With its keen sight.


The woodpecker knows

Where the larvae and insects

Are hiding.


It’s Spring,

The landscape gardeners

Have chopped all the trees.

Now the spur is bare,

No more can I see

The deer that came

To greet me,

To chill in the peace

Of the undergrowth,

And partake

Of the wild elderberries.


Man needs new dwellings again,

Alas, the habitat shrinks some more.

When the deer eat vegetables

In Frau Sumser’s garden,

She cries,

‘Inform the official hunter.

They have to be shot.’


The deer are unwelcome guests

In her precious garden.

Now and then

A russet fox,

With a bushy tail,

Comes stealthily by.


Hope the hunter doesn’t get a hint.

His duty is to keep wild away,

From human domiclies.

If he doesn’t shoot,

He’s a bad hunter.

If he does,

He’s a bad guy.


And so the habitat dwindles,

For the wild.


* * *




Lost Friendships (Satis Shroff)


When old friends

Go asunder,

What remains

Are memories,

Of moments

In tranquillity.


When world tremble

And words shiver,

When lips vibrate

And nothing comes out

Of your larynx.


Just the uneasy

Breath from your nostrils.

The silence and solitude

That prevails,

When friendships

Have lost their meanings.




Become embarassing.

And words become superfluous.

The old wounds bleed again,

Causing pain,

That come like sea waves,


Stab and go.


* * *



Time and Tide (Satis Shroff)


It’s early in the morning,

On a cold wintry day.

The horizon,

A crimson and orange haze.


The sea looks blue, far away,

But a muddy brown near you.

A solitary figure in a black overcoat,

Throat wrapped with a long muffler,

Stands like a black storch,

Staring at the sand below his feet.


Is he watching

The crustaceans,

Creeping on the shore?

Or is he thinking about a friendship?

Suddenly the frothy white waves

Drench his feet.

Too late.

Time and tide

Don’t wait for your thoughts.

He walks on,

With furtive glances

Thrown at the sea.


* * *


Sea Shells on the Shore (Satis Shroff)


How beautiful life is,

With you

And me.

Like little children,

Gathering lovely sedimentary stones,

Washed and chiselled by time,

And by the waves

In the North Sea.


Cockels and mussels in their unique

Facets and colours,

Caught between dark sea weeds,

Trapped between the man-made Buhnes,

Far from the dunes.


Alas, the fascinating life forms

That lived inside the carbonate

Mussels and shells,

Have long lost their homes;

Either eaten by the gulls

Or other winged fishers.


What remains are the crushed

Cockels and shells

Of salt water mollusc,

When human boots tread on them.

And children and grown ups

Collect them.

Conversation pieces,

In afternoons with coffe, cakes and scones.

‘Look what I found on the shore!’


* * *


Spring on the Sea (Satis Shroff)


The birds twitter,

The sun shines.

The crocuses are everywhere,

Upon well-laid lawns.


You can smell Spring,

When it gets warm.

The wet air climbs up

And with it the scents

Of grass and spring flowers,

Dancing gaily in the North Sea wind.


You bend down often,

While walking along the beach,

To admire a strand snail or a dead sea horse,

Heart mussels, American sword mussels,

Oysters or sea urchins,

Shells with chunks and fissures.


The silver seagulls flying low,

With long wings spread,

Argus eyes foraging for food.

Geese searching for mollusc morsels

In the sandy dunes.


Now and then you see

The black oyster fishers,

White tailed bearing wing stripes,

Dive in the green-bluish water,

Swooping down like kamikazi planes,

With breathless precision.

Out they come from the sea

With fidgety fishes

Between their sharp, orange beaks.


They’re experienced

At cracking stubborn mulluscs,

Till the adductors give way.

The gulls known as Lachmöwe,

Search for edibles in garbage depots,

And even behind ploughing tractors.


* * *


The Canvas of Nature (Satis Shroff)


The colours on the canvas of Nature melt:

Blue skies,

Yellow fields,

The grey of the wintry waves,

When the sunlight is hidden,

Behind a veil of fog.


You’re overwhelmed

By your feelings,

Moments of euphoria,

Streams of consciousness

In the melancholic North Sea environs.


Intimate, gleeful moments,

When you see a big orange crab,

Stranded on the beach.

Entangled in dark sea weed,

Or Seetang as we call it in German.


The next big waves arrive,

With short intervals,

Sweep over the stones and sea shells on the beach.

The crab has disappeared,

Claimed by the sea.

What a delight.


A seagull lies on the shore,

Amid the flotsam and jetsam,

Blown by the last storm,

In List to the north of Sylt.


Another seagull circles the prey

From the sky,

Comes down and perches near the dead gull,

Picks and pulls its entrails.


To think that life began,

In the primordeal ocean.

The relationship between humans

And the sea,

When man began to venture,

Towards the unknown.


Fired by the desire

To search for the unknown,

Limits of the peaks and seas,

With bigger and bigger boats and ships,

The ear of colonialism began.


But such voyages had to be backed

With money and things it can buy,

By rulers who smelt and wanted more

Riches and spices from the Indies,

West or East.


* * *


Tale of Destruction (Satis Shroff)


Tell the tale you clouds and gulls,

Despite the happiness and hope,

Spread by the sunlight

In early Spring.


Tell your tale of destruction

Carried by the gales and storms,

That bore names.


The wooden stairs and platforms

Lie now strewn upon the shore,

Blown to smitherens.

Plastic products everywhere,

Among a people that care.

A water desert,

That has been left behind,

As a warning,

Till the next big gale.


* * *


The Golden Sun (Satis Shroff)


Through the cloudy veil

Appears the golden sun,

Changing the silvery North Sea

To a golden and crimson horizon.

The waves adorned with rich teints

Of yellow, orange blue and brown hues.


A fascinating play of colours,

Unfolding before your eyes.

Even the man-made Buhnen glow.

As you trudge on the beach sand,

To avoid wetting your shows,

By the ever coming frothy waves,

As they peter out near you.


You’re thankful for everything

That you’ve been given or attained

In lifespan.

Like a moment of revelation,

An epipiphany,

Or when you’ve had a near-death experience.


Thankful for who and what you are,

Towards your parents, teachers and mentors,

Who’ve moved you towards your goal.

In this spectacular theatre called life.

Ah, when Heaven and Earth unite,

The air, land and water.


Chandrama the moon appears

Like a sickle in the vast blue sky,

Bidding farewell to Surya,

The Sun God,

Who has metamorphosed into Agni,

The fiery Goddess that swallows all,

With her purifying flames.

This is the revelation of an epiphany,

A spectacle bathed in scarlet,

Orange, yellow, greenish-blue light.


Ah, how must it have been,

When the world was created?


* * *


The North Sea (Satis Shroff)


The sea fascinates the artist in you,

It’s dramatic setting,

With its ceaseless waves.


Strong winds are pushing

Curly clouds in the vast sky,

The heavy waves roll,

In the bluish-grey seascape,

Emitting a long line of spray,

Above the white froth.


* * *


A Hymn to the Splendour (Satis Shroff)


The sea is calm and a fair moon

Stealthily appears in the sky,

Behind the northern clouds.


The red cliff of Kampen glimmers

Under the light of the dying sun.

And the waves take on yellow, orange, scarlet hues.

The tides still roar decently,

Cease, recede, only to come again.


A sweet Frisian nocturnal air,

Mingles with the smell of salt and fish,

Gets whipped up by the wind.


The golden light hangs,

Like a hymn to the splendour

Of this world.


* * *


The Ebb and Flow of Refugees (Satis Shroff)


The waves shimmer like silvery fishes,

The sand is bleached by the moonlight,

As you walk holding hands,

Barefeet along the shore.


The waves have left pebbles,

Sea shells, sea weed and crustaceans,

Flotsam and jetsam,

On the sea shore.


And the ebb and flow of refugees,

In the distance of the Mediterranean Sea,

Who’ve struggled in their countries,

But were obliged to flee

From their human foes.


Taken to the open sea,

Which remains full of dangers,

Whimsical and unpredictable.

The longing for European shores,

Where milk and honey flow.


A forlorn hope that ends,

For many in the bottom of the sea.


* * *


Invisible Threshold (Satis Shroff)


Did I boast of fleeting things,

Of illusions in these earthly confines?

How vain we are,

When we don’t realise,

That our very existence

Is an earthly maya.


Intangible shadows we grasp with our hands,

When we know we have to leave

For our eternal home.

When we cross the invisible threshold,

We don’t need visas and passports,

Green and blue cards.

As we wander through the twilight

Sans bodies,

To be one with the cosmos.


* * *


A Magical Moment (Satis Shroff)


The North Sea grey-green in the from afar,

Gets frothy as the waves approach the shore.

The splendour of coloured clouds covering the immense sky.

It’s inspired fear to mortals,

It’s a revelation to those with hearts,

As seagulls glide over the horizon,

To land near the red cliff of Sylt.

A magical moment of forlornness,

Amid the beauty and vastness,

Of the sky and the waves.


As the glowing ball call the sun sinks,

It radiates sparkling hues,

Across the sky and waves.

The royal blue of the sky,

Is reflected upon the sea.

In the higher reaches,

It mellows to a brilliant yellow and orange,

As the fiery sun becomes scarlet.


* * *









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Thomas, a burly, bearded botanist turned IT-specialist in Basle, and I decided to make a Herrnnachmittag out of a sunny day, despite the clouds in the vast horizon of the North Sea Isle of Langeoog, where we were spending our holidays with our near and dear ones. There we were, two croonies spending the afternoon, after an extended walk along the shore’s shrubby dunes on our way to the traditional East Friesian tea-house.


In the isle of Langeoog they call the houses ‘Hus,’ so you have a Teehus (tea-house) a Spöölhus (a house where kidddies can play). Since we were both avid tea-drinkers, we decided to go the “Ostfriesische Teestube am Hafen,” and I must say I found it delightful. They even had self-baked cakes for diabetics, not that we had insulin problems, but I do remember that my diabetic Creative Writing Professor Bruce Dobler would order a sandwich, weigh it on his portable Waage meticulously. Every gram seemed to count. It was like a ritual after his Creative Writing lectures at the University of Freiburg and we went to an Irish pub called O’ Dwyers, behind the university library for a swig of Guinness stout, as we talked about literature, poets and writers.


The tea was excellent and the butter cakes delicious. Through the white painted windows we could see the blue North Sea and the boats. Trawlers were approaching the harbour bringing in their haul. Our table had a glass case filled with Darjeeling tea leaves.


Thomas asked if it was the First Flush or the Second? I told him that it was certainly the First Flush because the ‘two leaves and a bud’ were distinctly visible. After the excellent Fresian tea we went for a walk along the dyke to the harbour. To our left was the Watt, which had been laid artificially, and which had become a habitat for all sorts of birds among them naturally a numerous sea-gulls.


Behind us we could see the bunkers built during the Third Reich, td been constructed though the iron-door leading to it was closed. Where the tarmac had been constructed for the German Luftwaffe, was now a dense forest, but the impeccable landing area was still intact. Private twin-motored planes took-off and landed now and again.


On August 3, 1941 some 450 Soviet prisoners of war were brought to Langeoog. The island chronist and teacher Richard Windemuth described them this way: ‘ We were all excited to know whether they looked the way the magazines and weekly shows described them. What we saw were figures in rags and uncouth due to the imprisonment, a very depressing picture. According to the SS-guards the POWs had rebelled and didn’t want to board the ship at Bensersiel. They were scared that they’d be left to drown in the icy waters of the North Sea.


The POWs, according to an observer from Wangerooge, were put up in a barrack in the Garden Street (today it’s House Meedland). The youngest POW was 15 years old, and they had to work at the airport of Langeoog. 113 of them died due to the inhuman treatment meted out to them, and buried in mass-graves in the outskirts of the dune-graveyard. After the krieg the island community is said to have created a passable memorial.


On August 26, 1941 came the French prisoners of war to Langeoog. They were soldiers who’d tried to escape from the Lagers (prison-camps) in Germany’s mainland. The treatment was harder than usual in the Isle of Langegoog, but not comparable to the treatment of Soviet prisoners. The chronicler says: ‘ They got the same food, even tobacco and Schnaps (German alcohol) like the German guards.’ Not so the poor Soviets who were called ‘Ivan’ in those days.


It might be noted that the Führer (Hitler) in his big speech demanded from the German public to pray for the blessings of the Almighty for the German Waffen (soldiers) in the Eastern Front. The population statistics of 1939 show that 95 % of the Germans belonged to one or other of the Christian religious societies: evangelic and catholic.


Just before midnight on September 7, 1941 Langeoog was bombed again. To the south of the airport 200 incendiary bombs were counted. One of the exploding bombs destroyed the Meider’s Bridge at the harbour. A ship under construction received 15 splitters and the harbour building was completely destroyed.


At the dune-graveyard you could visit the grave of the famous chanson singer Lale Anderson, who’s haunting, melodious song ‘Lili Marleen’ woke longings in the hearts of the U-boat crews, Luftwaffe pilots and German destroyers and other battleships, away from their Heimat and the danger of being blown to pieces by the US, RAF and Allied airplanes, depth-charges and artillery and flak.


No one knows the secret of freedom, unless you are a prisoner,’ said Dietrich Bonhoffer in 1944 when he was imprisoned by the Nazis. He knew through his own suffering and experience what freedom meant, and he also knew what personal freedom one had to sacrifice to achieve freedom for all, for freedom is not only a word. Freedom means words and deeds, as is evident in the Tibetan issue where people around the world are reacting and agitating for the fundamental rights of a country called the Roof of the World.


Meanwhile, you could discern a hoot from an outwards bound ship or the red catamaran which commutes between Langeoog and Benzersiel, and the incessant cries of the sea-gulls vying with each other to get a morsel of fish from the trawlers that were coming to their home-harbour.


The 2500 inhabitants of Langeoog are facing a tough time battling against Nature. The sea, which is washing away the island is one factor, and the influx of people with a lot of capital from the mainland is the other factor. The dunes are very important for the islands and coasts just as the wind, water and sun. Like the Watt and salty meadows, the dunes and other habitats also underlie special dynamic changes and some flora and fauna need these changes. Strandhafer, Strandroggen and Stranddistel live here. Brandgeese and sea-gulls breed primarily in the dunes.


The dunes serve as a protection for endangered animals and also for the inhabitants of Langeoog because there’s no need to build dykes, where there’s a protective shield of dune-chains around the island and along the coast. The dunes are much higher than the dykes and a lot broader. Every year, the west-wind and west-waves bring thousands of tons of sand from the East Sea to the North Sea. The protection of the coast and nature conservation go hand in hand. And visitors to the isle are admonished to walk only along the prescribed paths to the benefit of humans and Mother Nature


Even I’d contemplated how wonderful it would be to build at least a holiday-houses at Langeoog. Instead we’ve decided to build one in the Black Forest right below a hill with pine trees, with an excellent view of the hills in the vicinity of Rosskopf.


The old fashioned Tante Emma shops are dwindling, giving way to supermarkets—like in France’s Atlantic Isle of Oleron. One remarkable feature of the Isle of Langeoog is that it has been long declared a car-free zone. The main means of communication in the Isle is with an old, gaudy diesel-driven train that brings you to the town from the harbour. After that you can hire a horse-driven taxi, bicycle or go on foot. The cars remain in Bensersiel (mainland). And unless you know someone in the island who has a plane, everyone is obliged to take the ferry.


We walked along the north-west beach into the small town. The beach was littered with churned sea-shells, sea-weed and plastic garbage of the tourists. A team of workers who belonged to a jaw-breaking measure (Arbeitsbeschaffungsmaßnahmen ABM) came with a tractor and a trailer to clear the beach.


Ordnung muss sein, even on the beach!” remarked Thomas. The people of Langeoog have to separate their garbage and put them in the respective bins—as everywhere in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Green bins for paper, brown for biological or organic garbage and yellow plastic bags for PVC and plastic garbage.


Watt n’ Erlebnis: The walk along the North Sea Wattenmeer, along the shore of Langeoog was interesting and strenuous and the local guide Uwe G. turned out to be a bearded, blond East Friesian bloke with a gift of the gab. He introduced us to the dangers and secrets of the Watt, which is typical for Germany and Scandinavian countries. We walked every 100 metres into the sea, and Uwe dug his fork into the sea-bed and showed us the wonders of the North Sea Watt: crustaceans and molluscs, crabs, shrimps, worms and their habitats. How the heart-mussel and clams live, and how to get a glass full of shrimps swimming in water. He loved to tell you about the peristaltic of the worms in comparison to humans, their reproductive and digestive systems. It was what you might call a marine biology lecture carried at a hilarious, non-scientific level and the people loved him for it.


An elderly Germany couple thought the Uwe had a “Bundeswehr tone” to his talk. Another German said that he was definitely “Analfixiert” (anal-fixed according to Freud’s theory, wherein he speaks about people being ‘fixed’ in the oral, anal and oedipal phases of human development). But Uwe was very self-conscious and he went on candidly comparing humans with molluscs. The children and grown-ups had a good time.


By the time we’d reached the outer periphery of the Watt, the tide started coming in. And it got difficult to pull out the gum-boots out of the Schlack (dark, sticky, muddy water). It was a moment when I thought it would perhaps be better to leave my gum-boots behind. But I somehow managed to walk on. The Wattwanderung along the shores of the Isle of Langeoog was interesting and strenuous and we learned quite a lot about the wildlife and acquatic animas on the shores of the North Sea Wattenmeer.


Another day it was a chilly, and we could feel the gusts of wind blowing to the island from the North Sea. Although we had our pullovers, jackets and gum-boots on, as we trudged along between the beach and the waves, busy gathering sea-shells, a woman in the autumn of her life, wearing a one-piece bathing suit in anthroposophical orange pastell colours, walked to the sea and began swimming in the cold, wind-swept water. Brr! She was very courageous, disciplined and trimmed for a hard life, I thought.


Downtown Langeoog reminded me of a sea-town in Britain with those neat brick-houses and white-painted doors and windows, cobble-stoned streets and sea-man’s kitsch on the windows. I couldn’t help it, I had to buy some of it: cards, Langeoogs water-tower in miniature with two sea-gulls and a red-white painted trawler, complete with fishing nets on two sides. Sigh!




Longing For Langeoog (Satis Shroff)



Were I a sea-gull

I’d fly to the north,

To Langeoog,

Where I spent my holidays.

Ach, how wonderful.


I think of the colourful

Wicker beach-chairs with hoods,

And the small island train.


I think of Flut and Ebbe,

Of time and tide,

Clams, starfish, seaweed.

The shores full of shrimps,

Sea-urchins and jelly-fish.

The fun of bathing

In the North Sea,

And the fear of the Qualle.


Grandma Else’s porcellain Stube,

A warm cuppa East Friesian

Candy sugared tea

At the harbour Teestube.


I remember ‘Watt’n Erlebnis’

What an experience,

During the Wattwanderung,

Along Langeoog’s dark, slicky shores,

Searching for mussels, clams and crabs in the water.

And in the endless sky,

Like an inverted cobalt bowl,

Swarms of Rotschenkel

On their way to Africa.



Flut und Ebbe: flood- and low-tide

Qualle: jellyfisherman

Rotschenkel: red-legged island birds

Watt: banks of sand, flats

Watt’n Erlebnis: what an experience, with a pun on Watt

Stube: store, shop

Teestube: tea-shop

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