World Book Day… in the UK…


World Book Day is celebrated on 23rd April in most countries of the world, but not in the idiosyncratic “UK”, because there the 23rd April is reserved for St. George, the patron saint of England…

However, as Scotland (whose own patron saint is St. Andrew not St. George) is still officially part of the UK at the present time, Algy thought that it provided as good an excuse as any to spend a happy afternoon reading in the sunshine 🙂 So he tucked himself in among the spiky grasses on the warm sand dunes, and opened his book of “Poems of the Sea”. Just a hop and a flutter away in front of him, Algy could see the waves dancing and sparkling on the beach, with the whole expanse of the wide, blue ocean with its mysterious world beneath, and as he turned back to his book he read:

The world below the brine,
Forests at the bottom of the sea, the branches and leaves,
Sea-lettuce, vast lichens, strange flowers and seeds, the thick tangle, openings, and pink turf,
Different colors, pale gray and green, purple, white, and gold, the play of light through the water,
Dumb swimmers there among the rocks, coral, gluten, grass, rushes, and the aliment of the swimmers,
Sluggish existences grazing there suspended, or slowly crawling close to the bottom,
The sperm-whale at the surface blowing air and spray, or disporting with his flukes,
The leaden-eyed shark, the walrus, the turtle, the hairy sea-leopard, and the sting-ray,
Passions there, wars, pursuits, tribes, sight in those ocean-depths, breathing that thick-breathing air, as so many do,
The change thence to the sight here, and to the subtle air breathed by beings like us who walk this sphere,
The change onward from ours to that of beings who walk other spheres.

[Algy is reading the poem The World Below the Brine by the 19th century American poet Walt Whitman.]


So Algy set off from his home and flew for many hours, until he reached the shores of the great sea loch. There he sought out one of the narrower stretches, as he was not very keen on crossing salt water, and flew across quickly, without looking down. He paused for a wee while on the further side, then turned towards the south, and started to follow the course of the great loch as it made its way towards the ocean. After a while he spotted a strange beach, which looked like a good place to rest. It was not at all like his own beach of fine white Hebridean shell sand, but covered instead with brown pebbles of various sizes; at the back of the beach there was a mass of gorse bushes instead of the sand dunes and Marram grass he was used to. However, it provided plenty of cover, and seemed like a reasonable place to break his journey. As he perched on a boulder and looked out at the loch, he was reminded of the opening of Walt Whitman’s famous poem, although he wasn’t exactly “afoot”, and his road was more silvery-grey than brown…

          Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
          Healthy, free, the world before me,
          The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

          Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
          Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
          Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
          Strong and content I travel the open road.

[Algy is quoting the opening of the poem Song of the Open Road by the 19th century American poet Walt Whitman.]