Myths of the sea are some of the most enduring cultural associations with oceanic spaces. In particular, literature written from islands and coastal locations often shares an interest in these mythic narratives. With a focus on this comparative element, this article investigates how contemporary poets from Ireland and from the Anglophone Caribbean engage with the myths of the sea in their work. It examines the poetry of Lorna Goodison (Jamaica), Seamus Heaney (Northern Ireland), Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Republic of Ireland), and Derek Walcott (Saint Lucia), demonstrating the ways in which a contemporary engagement with the myths of the sea transforms and translates understandings not only of the present moment but also of traditional ideas of linear time. Specific myths of the sea become a tool with which to mine the past and present as they allow these poets to reflect on beginnings, endings, and the repetition of cycles. The critiques that these poets level in their work are also considered through a gendered lens here, as the association between woman and sea, as well as the mythologization of woman is discussed. This article analyzes key poems from these writers to draw out rarely evinced transatlantic routes of correspondence between the four poets. In doing so, it also emphasizes the connective properties of the sea’s cultural, artistic, and imaginative resonances.

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