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“Sea Change” Meanings

March 27, 2011 by  
Filed under peter


Ouroboros — represents the unity of the physical and the
spiritual in the constant cycle of destruction and re-creation in
which nothing is lost, but only changed in form

Shakespeare — “Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.”
(The Tempest, I,ii lines 402-404)

Karma — Indian belief in the soul’s continual death and rebirth
through many cycles each dependant for its form on the one before

The idea of the Ouroboros myth and that expressed by
Shakespeare both present the idea of change; change in which
nothing of the essential is lost, but rather transformed into
something “rich and strange”. In both instances this change
involves the sea.

The ocean, both metaphorically and biologically, is the
source of life, and in order to complete the cycle of
destruction, change, and rebirth it is necessary to return again
to the beginning. It is in the sea that the changes occur, and
it is from the sea that the journey will begin again.

The sea is a cleansing medium, washing away the “old” life,
leaving behind only the most precious, most essential elements.
It is from these elements that the new cycle will grow. This
essence is the “rich and strange” part of the person, the part
that makes each individual unique. It is also the part that is
most hidden, buried behind the walls constructed as protection
from the pains of life.

In a larger sense, the ocean represents life itself, and the
act of immersion in the sea acknowledges the connection between
the individual self and the greater life force that permeates the
universe. Man is part of nature, with his own unique and
important role to play.

But what is the nature of this life force? The answer lies
in the imagery used in reference to the sea. These rather lovely
images describe the ocean as a lover, and this is where the true
heart of the lyric beats. It is a love song, but of a very
special kind.

Love, as represented by the ocean is renewing, redemptive,
powerful, all-encompassing. It is this love in all its aspects —
spiritual, physical, emotional — that brings about man’s
rebirth. Love strips away the defenses, revealling that which is
the truest and best part of the self. It makes all things
possible, all things endurable.

The power of this love lies in the true unity of the body
and the spirit. Man is neither all one, nor all the other, but is
both simultaneously. Each aspect, physical and spiritual,
enhances the other. Alone neither is sufficient for the the
passage through this never-ending cycle. Together they make that
passage possible, and thereby bring about the rebirth and
salvation of the self.

It also seems that “Sea Change”, taken with the idea of
Karma presented in “Long Title”, gives a complete view of this
cycle of life, death, rest, rebirth.

In “Long Title” can be seen the beginning of the cycle–the
traveller being thrust from the serenity of the deep to begin the
long, hard climb that eventually will lead back to the beginning
again. There is reluctance to leave the place of rest, a
questioning, an anger at being forced to resume the journey
through life. “Sea Change” presents the end of the journey. The
long climb over, the weary traveller has returned to “Mother
Ocean” seeking rest and comfort. After a certain initial
reluctance comes the immersion in the waters, the passage through
the “darkness black as coal”, the soft sinking down into a place
of peace and repose. It is a time of submission, of waiting, of
preparation for the time when it is necessary to begin the
journey yet again.

By: Eva Frizzi <>

*** This interpretation was sent to Peter Tork, who responded with the

Dear Eva,

Thank you for your interpretation of my song. While it is not
quite what I had in mind, it may be better than the idea I had!

Thanks again; I’m glad that my music can spark such
thought-provoking ideas and conversation.

love, Peter Tork

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