The old fog horn was no longer used to warn ships of danger on misty days, but it provided an excellent lookout point that was popular with many visitors to the lighthouse, and Algy was no exception. He loved to perch on the bright red structure and gaze far out to sea, watching for whales and dolphins, or any other sea creature that might happen to be passing. As he leaned back on the massive iron struts in the sunshine, Algy remembered a poem. Most poets seemed to consider the sound of the fog horn to be distressing, but Algy liked it. He missed the eerie booming noise that drifted across the land and sea whenever the mist came down.

Surely that moan is not the thing
That men thought they were making, when they
Put it there, for their own necessities.
That throat does not call to anything human
But to something men had forgotten,
That stirs under fog. Who wounded that beast
Incurably, or from whose pasture
Was it lost, full grown, and time closed round it
With no way back? Who tethered its tongue
So that its voice could never come
To speak out in the light of clear day,
But only when the shifting blindness
Descends and is acknowledged among us,
As though from under a floor it is heard,
Or as though from behind a wall, always
nearer than we had remembered? If it
Was we that gave tongue to this cry
What does it bespeak in us, repeating
And repeating, insisting on something
That we never meant. We only put it there
To give warning of something we dare not
Ignore, lest we should come upon it
Too suddenly, recognize it too late,
As our cries were swallowed up and all hands lost.

[Algy is quoting the poem Fog-Horn by the contemporary American poet W. S. Merwin.]


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