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Turtle Better Than Yacht Owners?

"The turtle had come a long walk, / 200 millennia understudy to dinosaurs, / then their survivors. A god for the out-of-power . . . . / Faster gods come to Castine, flush yachtsmen who see hell as a city very much like New York, / these gods give a bad past and worse future to men who never bother to set a spinnaker; / culture without cash isn't worth their spit."
~lines 3-10 of Robert Lowell's "Bringing a Turtle Home" on page 105 of Eight American Poets

Now, I'm not sure if I understood this right or not--poetry has never been a strong suit of mine--but I think it might be suggesting that the turtle is better than the rich yacht owners of society. This is interesting. According to these lines, the yacht owners believe that only those who have money are worth anything, yet here's this turtle who has no money, but has survived through a lot. This individual turtle may not have survived as long as the poem suggests, but I think it stands for the entire race of turtles. As a species, the turtles have survived through a lot. They have "come a long walk" through millions of years. Yes, the yacht owners have money, but what do they really have to show for it?

Comments (2)

Carlos Peredo:

It also made me think of nature in general. Sea turtles can live well into their hundreds and certain breeds of turtle actually don't age at all.

Humans as a species barely sniff a few thousand years old, and yet we run around the earth as though we own the place. Sometimes it makes me think, the earth's been around for billions. And every time things get out of balance we see a mass extinction. It's happened four or five times. I just wonder, if it comes down to man vs earth, my money's on the thing that's been around for billions, not thousands of years.

Georgia Speer:

Wow, I read this and kinda missed that…but wow, when I read this after readying yours and Carlos’s blogs, I really got to thinking…doesn’t this come back to the old saying, “blood is thicker than water”, meaning that the reference to the turtle coming from a long line of ancestors and even though the yachtsmen have money, it seems to speak to me that they are saying faster isn’t always better is the lesson here. As they speak of the faster gods, but those faster gods give a bad past and worse future…that seems to say a lot! The turtle has culture, which makes it much more wealthy than the yachtsmen with cash will ever be. “Scratching your pail for water,” this seems to mean to me that they will always thirst for the real richness…which does not come with money, but with culture.

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