The Sound of the Sea Analysis

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Analyzing Longfellow

The Sound of the Sea

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In the poem, The Sound of the Sea, by Longfellow, the speaker uses an allusion of the sea to show a comparison between the "rushing of the sea-tides" and the process of the human soul being inspired. The speaker is enchanted by the ways that occasions and situations are revealed to the soul through "inspirations" in a method of almost "foreshadowing" what is to come in the future. These "inspirations" come as sporadically to humans beings as the tide's rushing in along the beaches. This allusion is presented through the poem with a regular rhyme scheme (abbaabba, cdecdec) in a single stanza format.

Longfellow uses the poem as a metaphor to symbolize how strong and powerful visions suddenly come to humans, and seem to speak to our "souls." The soul is first motivated suddenly towards something, as illustrated when the speaker hears "the first wave of the rising tide." This is a sudden epiphany illuminating the speaker's mind, "a voice out of the silence of the deep," reverberating in the speaker's whole body until it is like the "roar of the winds," making a strong, clear vision to the soul which will inspire it. Longfellow uses a simile (Line 7) for a direct comparison of how suddenly the soul is affected by an inspiration as it springs up "as of a cataract from the mountain's side." The "mountain's side" alludes to the human soul and the "cataract" the vision that comes to a person from 'out of the blue.'

The speaker's point is how quickly "inspirations" come to us, and that "we deem our own." The speaker views these inspirations on almost some sort of supernatural occurrence, being "beyond our reason or control." Since ideas seem inspired without logic, but rather inspired above our reason, the speaker believes these "inspirations" are some sort of "divine foreshadowing" of what is to come in the future. This mystical sense and powerful feeling given to the way humans are...
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