Kansas was once a vast inland sea called the Cretaceous Seaway and the Niobraran Sea. The chalk deposits and the limestone and shale sediments seen throughout the Flint Hills remind us of this.
Thus, I am reminded of Henry Wordsworth Longfellow’s poem that speaks of seas and sailors, of secrets, dreams, and mysteries.
The Secret of the Sea
Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea!
All the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.
Sails of silk and ropes of sandal,
Such as gleam in ancient lore;
And the singing of the sailors,
And the answer from the shore!
[Tell me of] the Spanish ballad…
Of the noble Count Arnaldos…
Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
Where the sand as silver shines,
With a soft, monotonous cadence,
Flow its unrhymed lyric lines;–
Tell [me] how the Count Arnaldos,…
Saw a fair and stately galley,…
How he heard the ancient helmsman
Chant a song so wild and clear,
That the sailing sea-bird slowly
Poised upon the mast to hear,
Till his soul was full of longing,
And he cried, with impulse strong,–
“Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
Teach me, too, that wondrous song!”
“Wouldst thou,”–so the helmsman answered,
“Learn the secret of the sea?
Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!”
In each sail that skims the horizon,
In each landward-blowing breeze,
I behold that stately galley,
Hear those mournful melodies;
Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
And the heart of the great ocean
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.
This is a slightly shorter version, the full version is here.