‘Sea At Connemara’ By Harry V. Gelboin (Tzvi Hersh Gelboim)

We’re doing something a little different this week – publishing two versions of the same poem side by side – similar, but each with unique candor.

Sea at Connemara

Smooth rock of the mountain top
Smooth rock of the sea.
Sing to me of ancient winds and waves
and fires that lit up the night
and died with none watching.
Smooth rock.
Know that sea birds watch
your endless days
and silent stars glitter the cold
and horses wild with delight
watching brown turtles hurrying
to nowhere.

Smooth rock of the mountain top
Silent rock of the sea.
Whisper, please whisper,
to me.


Sea at Connemara

Smooth rock of the mountain top,
smooth rock of the sea,
Tell me of ancient winds and waves,
of fires that burn the sun
and flamed the night
and died with none watching.
Tell me of birds with broken wings
and horses wild with delight,
of brown turtles scuttling to nowhere
and returning to the sea.
Sea birds watch your endless aging,
and silent stars look down from the cold.
Silent rock of the mountain top,
silent rock of the sea,
Whisper, please whisper,
your song to me
(and I will know your song and you)

Dr. Harry V. Gelboin was born Tzvi Hersh Avigdor Gelboim in Chicago on December 21, 1929. Harry’s parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia, coming to the US after encountering hardships in Europe before and during WWI. His first language was Yiddish. A research scientist and chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis at the National Cancer Institute of NIH, he created a library for his lab, making a space for people to congregate and share ideas in an informal setting. He came to NIH in 1958 and was still doing research and publishing after his retirement in 2000. Walking in nature played a vital role in his life, noticing what was sometimes overlooked –– like the architecture of trees in winter. A city boy turned avid gardener, he proudly shared his harvest. He enjoyed recounting adventures abroad while attending scientific meetings, laughing at his own foibles. Throughout his life, he penned many poems, essays, and stories (most of them handwritten) while authoring or co-authoring hundreds of lectures, books, and scientific papers. His spirit continues to illuminate and inspire.

Photo By Ciarán Ó Muirgheasa

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