[The American shore ode] is a lyric of some length and philosophic density spoken (usually at a specific place) on an American beach; its theme tends to encompass the relationship of the wholeness and flux of the sea to the discreteness and fixity of land objects. This kind of poem does more than simply engage in transcendental meditations about the sea: the important thing is this dissimilarity between shore and sea, sand and water, separateness and cohesiveness, analysis and synthesis––a dissimilarity which explains and justifies their paradoxical marriage.
[Paul Fussell, Jr., “Whitman’s Curious Warble”]
Even as a boy, I had the fancy, the wish, to write a piece, perhaps a poem, about the sea-shore––that suggesting, dividing line, contact, junction, the solid marrying the liquid––that curious, lurking something (as doubtless every objective form finally becomes to the subjective spirit,) which means far more than its mere first sight, grand as that is––blending the real and the ideal, and each made portion of the other.
[Walt Whitman, Specimen Days]