The Harmful Enclosure of Many Lands

If your soul hurts, this is what you must do:

Look out upon the spilt blood of the land,

The necklace of the Earth, its sapphire hue,

A homestead of the prow, encased in sand.

Then build your house next to these spaces blue,

Away from parks and where mankind has fanned;

Remember when you clench your teeth in pain,

The thrower of the amber will remain.


Ocean Beach, north of Bream Head, Northland, New Zealand (Photo Credit: gadfium, via Wikimedia Commons).
Ocean Beach, north of Bream Head, Northland, New Zealand (Photo Credit: gadfium, via Wikimedia Commons).


This is an Ottava Rima, written about a recent piece of research by scientists from Michigan State University, which found that residents in New Zealand that had a view of water bodies (“blue space”) tended to be less stressed. In order to validate this work, the researchers also tested the same sample of participants to see if there was a link between blue space visibility and missing teeth; it was expected that there would be no relationship, and there was not one. This validated the relationship between blue sky visibility and stress and helped to prove that the researchers were not just finding relationships where there weren’t any. The study also found no correlation between reduced stress levels and visibility of “green space”, although it is thought that this is because whilst the blue spaces were all natural, some of the green spaces included human-made areas, such as playgrounds and sports fields.

The outcomes of this study could hopefully be used to promote mental health through the designing and designation of affordable homes in locations with views of natural bodies of water.

The thrower of the amber is a Kenning (a compound expression in Old Norse poetry with metaphorical meaning) for the sea.

An audio version of the poem can be heard here.




2 thoughts on “The Harmful Enclosure of Many Lands”

  1. The followers of Henry George, an economist from USA who wrote his seminal book about poverty and the way that land-value speculations can make it worse, will be interested in this poem.

    Also with our rising sea levels, this good means for helping us to become calm and relaxed is becoming less freely available.


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