'the Shell' Poem Analysis
AND then I pressed the shell | | Close to my ear | | And listened well, | | And straightway like a bell | | Came low and clear | 5 | The slow, sad murmur of the distant seas, | | Whipped by an icy breeze | | Upon a shore | | Wind-swept and desolate. | | It was a sunless strand that never bore | 10 | The footprint of a man, | | Nor felt the weight | | Since time began | | Of any human quality or stir | | Save what the dreary winds and waves incur. | 15 | And in the hush of waters was the sound | | Of pebbles rolling round, | | For ever rolling with a hollow sound. | | And bubbling sea-weeds as the waters go | | Swish to and fro | 20 | Their long, cold tentacles of slimy grey. | | There was no day, | | Nor ever came a night | | Setting the stars alight | | To wonder at the moon: | 25 | Was twilight only and the frightened croon, | | Smitten to whimpers, of the dreary wind | | And waves that journeyed blind— | | And then I loosed my ear ... O, it was sweet | | To hear a cart go jolting down the street. | 30 |
James Stephens * 9 February 1882 - 26 December 1950
As the poet takes a stroll on the beach, he enjoys nature for what it is. The beach is beautiful, but very lonely. He describes the sound he hears through the shell, and imagines the desolate shore before man existed. He hears the sad murmur of the sea in the shell, and is pleased to be back in the real world after his daydream.
The tone of the poem is very calm and it is slow-paced. The mood is very morose and lonely, because the poet writes of a place with no humans or technology.
The purpose of the poem is to tell us that nature has its own beauty, we should love it for the way it is. We shouldn't ruin it in any way but rather preserve it and protect it. It has been there way before we arrived, that is why we should appreciate nature and its beauty.
The technique that the poet uses is using the correct metaphor when needed. The words that he uses paints a picture in your mind showing you what he sees and hears, which puts our minds in the setting described.
The poem has one stanza and has a rhyme scheme of: a, b, a, a, b, c, c, d, e, d…
The poet uses lots of personification to describe what he hears in the shell and he uses metaphors.
The poet also uses onomatopoeia and alliteration, e.g. “winds and waves” and “sunless strand”.