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The poem opens with "people along the sand" staring at the sea all day. They're all looking one way and they've got their backs to the land. Occasionally they spot a ship raising its hull on the sea. Beside them stands a solitary gull. Even though the water comes ashore, the people still look out at the sea. Meanwhile, they can't look out far and they can't look in deep. But they keep watching the sea anyway.