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Taking the Plunge
Daring was not enough however, “It may be there is a herb growing at the bottom of the river just above the pool at Granchester,” he wrote to his friend Geoffrey Keynes (later to become a well-known Blake scholar), “and that if I dive and find it and bring it up—it will heal me.” What of? One fascination of swimming is that the swimmer may feel himself cured of all ailments and dissatisfactions, as of all other longings. The waters of death have gone over my head, as the Bible says. Swimming, like dying, seems to solve all problems: and you remain alive. At least two English novelists, I note with interest—Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh—once swam out to sea with the intention of never coming back. They did of course—Waugh, as he says, because he found himself surrounded by jellyfish. But a poet of an earlier generation, John Davidson, who entered the sea near Penzance with the same intention, held to his purpose... More here.
This essay is not new (1993), but it is very enjoyable.