The term sea-change, like many others in English, comes to us from Shakespeare. When Ariel sought to comfort Ferdinand in The Tempest over the death of his father, she sang:
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
Into something rich and strange.
How effective this was in comforting Ferdinand is perhaps open for debate, but the imputation is clear: sea-change is what happens when the form is retained, but the substance is made anew into something “rich and strange.” A powerful view of life, one that implicitly affirms the continual remaking of matter and thought into astounding and sublime constructions, one that dovetails nicely with our understanding of the fundamental nature of the universe. It is estimated that every person alive today has billions of atoms in their bodies that once belonged to Shakespeare himself, and in that sense the Bard (as all mere matter eventually does) has undergone a sea-change into William Shatner, Muhammad Ali, Diana Ross, and Stephen Hawking. Even Justin Bieber has a little Shakespeare in him. When the Biebs croons I’ll be your platinum, I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold, it may be his residual Shakespeare that compels him to metaphorically compare his lady love to precious metals; indeed, as the Bard wrote, If music be the food of love, play on.
For those of us on coastlines, sea-change is both physically evident and fantastically incomprehensible. Each day the ocean rolls in, uniquely composed each minute but constantly itself, washing our detritus out and giving it back remade. Keats intimately felt this when he directed his tombstone to read “Here Lies One Whose Name Is Writ in Water.” In ourselves too we experience this sea-change: each day we wake up as strangers to ourselves, subtly shifted by last night’s revels, a terrifying dream, something someone said in passing we overheard. But looking in the mirror, we are greeted by the same features we carefully brushed and soaped yesterday. We remake the lines of our maps and charts of self each moment, recalibrate our measurements, shift tectonically like the earth and rise and recede as the tides. Pacifica Literary Review seeks writing and photography for our Summer Issue that engages with sea-change, that which transforms the substance known into something new and strange.
Check out our submissions page for full submission guidelines.