The water is a metaphor for traveling and freewill. Ireland has lots of coastline, which Bono drew inspiration from.
The first line, "A picture in grey, Dorian Gray," is a reference to the 1890 novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by the Irish author Oscar Wilde. The novel has been the basis for many musical works.
The lyrics, "When I looked around, the world could not be found, just me by the sea," were included in the booklet for the LP. These lyrics never ended up being used for the final recording.
Suggestion credit: Bill - Johnstown, PA
This was released on U2's debut album, Boy, which was produced by Steve Lillywhite. The album cover, with a shirtless, 7-year-old boy on the cover, caused some controversy. The American release has an alternate cover with a black-and-white photo of the band.
Angela from Hagerstown, Mdthe book being The Portrait of Dorian Gray, of course. A very good book as well as Lord of the Flies, another book U2 often draws from. Oscar Wilde was Irish, BTW.
Ray from Portland, OrIn the 80s, there was a band called Dorian Gray, who spelled their name "Dorian Grey". They later shortened it to just "Grey", alluding to the Oscar Wilde character and also the look of the ocean (and sky) near Los Angeles where the band was based.