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One has to be a sailor to experience a storm of sea. However, there are enough storms on shore that are just as horrible. I do not mean the ones weathermen track with satellites. I mean the trials and tribulations which all mortals undergo — what Shakespeare’s Hamlet called the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” in his famous ‘To be, or not to be‘ soliloquy. The following works of art may well serve as allegories of life in these troubled and troubling times.

What fates impose, that men must needs abide;
It boots not to resist both wind and tide.

William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III (c. 1591), Act IV, scene 3

Calm Before a Storm, Newport, c. 1874
William Trost Richards (American, 1833-1905)
Transparent and opaque watercolour on cream, moderately thick, moderately textured wove paper
Courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

Waves, 1869
Oil on canvas
Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877)
Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

This life of ours is a wild æolian harp of many a joyous strain,
But under them all there runs a loud perpetual wail, as of souls in pain.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christus, The Golden Legend (1872)

Fishing Boats in a Storm. about 1715
Gouache on tanned skin
Marco Ricci (Italian, 1676–1730)
Courtesy of The J. Paul Getty Museum

Squall, Brenton Light (boat in storm, lighthouse in background), no date
Oil on paperboard mounted on wood
Edward Mitchell Bannister (Canadian-American, 1828-1901)
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Stormy sea at night, 1849
Oil on canvas
Ivan Aivazovsky (Russian, 1817–1900)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Away with funeral music—set
The pipe to powerful lips—
The cup of life’s for him that drinks
And not for him that sips.

Robert Louis Stevenson, At Boulogne (1872)

Early Morning After a Storm at Sea, 1900–1903
Oil on canvas
Winslow Homer (American, 1836–1910)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Sunset at Sea after a Storm, no date
William Miller (English, 1796–1882), copy after Francis Danby (Irish, 1793–1861)
Engraving
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

~ Barista Uno

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