The Marshes of Glynn

“…Of the dim sweet woods, of the dear dark woods,

 Of the heavenly woods and glades, 

That run to the radiant marginal sand-beach within 

The wide sea-marshes of Glynn;-- …” 

Live oaks, Spanish moss, myrtle, palmetto, sweet, Spartina and cord grasses woven with ephemeral sunlight that melts colors into muddy jewel toned hues – coastal Georgia’s marshes stir my soul.  

Not the first nor the last to wax and wane on these storied marshes and not the first Middle Georgia boy either to do so: Sidney Lanier did, oh so eloquently, in a fluid body of words reminiscent of the marshes cadence themselves. “The Marshes of Glynn,” one of Lanier’s most notable works, is a love song to the swansong of Georgia’s rivers journey to the sea and the purely organic moment said waters meld, meet, swarm, sway, and thus lace together forming these storied marshlands. 

Wellheads in the cool, clear mountain streams, then trickling from Lower Appalachia to, in turn, wind their way through magnolia strewn red clay midlands, through loamy drifts of southernmost Georgia even through sweet Vidalia soil, Georgia’s rivers carry their silt laden waters to the sea – offering their watery bounty to the ocean in caches of coastland and estuaries of evolution.

Smells, colors, textures, flora, and fauna all abound from the Low Country of South Carolina to the First Coast along St. Augustine, with Georgia’s Golden Isles as the epicenter of Dixie’s southeastern marshland. As I’ve been down on St. Simon’s and Sea Island this week for a photo shoot, I’m instantly inundated by my love, obsession, connection, and delight in these marshes – the indescribable colors, their soulful tidal lurches, the golden yet silvery yet copper toned light all at once – who’s very presence and palette are rejuvenating and inspirational enough to recharge my sense of being.

I’m wanton for wetlands and on par with Mr. Lanier’s love of the land and his exultation of Nature’s religious rhythm. On this very dawning of autumn, I’m finding myself surged with energy anew not only from nostalgia for pumpkins and mums, but for the crisp, cool breezes perfumed with sulfuric yet sweet aromas of the Marshes of Glynn. 

“…And now from the Vast of the Lord will the waters of sleep 

Roll in on the souls of men, 

But who will reveal to our waking ken 

The forms that swim and the shapes that creep 

Under the waters of sleep? 

And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in

On the length and the breadth of the marvellous marshes of Glynn.”