By Jay Parini
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Additional info for American Writers, Supplement IX
She notices other shells on the beach, horn shells, and wishes that I might see what Audubon saw, a century and more ago. For such little horn shells were the food of the flamingo, once so numerous on this coast, and when I half closed my eyes I could almost imagine a flock of these magnificent flame birds feeding in that cove, filling it with their color. It was a mere yesterday in the life of the earth that they were there; in nature, time and space are relative matters, perhaps most truly perceived subjectively in occasional flashes of insight, sparked by such a magical hour and place.
He suggested that Carson submit it to the Atlantic Monthly, which she did, and it was published in the magazine's September 1937 issue. " "Undersea" took up only four pages of the Atlantic Monthly, but most of Carson's concerns are clearly evident in this early piece. Primary among these concerns is the literary presentation of complex scientific information to a general reading public, indeed the rendering of scientific material into poetry, as much of Carson's writing about the sea attains the status of an extended prose poem.
Looking into a tidepool "paved" with mussels, Carson sees the following: "The water in which they lived was so clear as to be invisible to my eyes; I could detect the interface between air and water only by the sense of coldness on my fingertips. " The edge here between air and water is invisible, yet cool to the touch, and in this passage Carson does not insist that we see this permeable boundary, but that we look at it not only with our eyes but with all our senses and our imaginations. She posits an ethical commitment 30 / AMERICAN WRITERS of the human organism to looking at the world beyond itself.
American Writers, Supplement IX by Jay Parini
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