I found this jawbone at the sea’s edge:

There, crabs, dogfish, broken by the breakers or tossed

To flap for half an hour and turn to a crust

Continue the beginning.

The deeps are cold:

In that darkness camaraderie does not hold.


Nothing touches but, clutching, devours.

And the jaws,

Before they are satisfied or their stretched purpose

Slacken, go down jaws; go gnawn bare. Jaws

Eat and are finished and the jawbone comes to the beach: This is the

sea’s achievement; with shells,

Verterbrae, claws, carapaces, skulls.


Time in the sea eats its tail, thrives, casts these

Indigestibles, the spars of purposes

That failed far from the surface.

None grow rich in the sea.

This curved jawbone did not laugh

But gripped, gripped and is now a cenotaph.


by Ted Hughes