Topics: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Stanza, Chambered Nautilus Pages: 2 (421 words) Published: October 23, 2013

The chambered nautilus

The poem “The Chambered nautilus” from Oliver Wendell Holmes. The poet finds a nautilus shell, and reflects on the life of the animal, venturing on the unknown adventure of life. He reflects on how, as it grows, it moves into a new chamber, each one larger than the last. Then this makes him think of his own life, and mortality. And how he moves and grows from one part of his life to the next, until he finally dies, and leaves his shell just like the nautilus. Holmes begins the five stanza poem with describtive imagery of the mollusk. As the nautituln grows, it closes off its previous shell and inhabits a new one attrached to the old one. The mollusk creates a spiral of chambers as it mature. In the first stanza with Holmes describes the nautilus as a ship of pearl. The term nautilus has seafaring connotations with similar words such as nautical. Nautilus is a Greek word for sail, so its an metaphor to compare the creature to a seafaring vessel. Holmes uses the word “venturous’ to describe the nautilus. This creates the effect of describing the mollusk as being on a journey or an adventure. Another impression Holmes creates is that of magic. The nautilus is described as inhabiting the same magical worlds in the coral reefs, which is reality is where the nautilus lives and surfaces from to reap the necessities of life. Stanzas 1-3 each are addressed to the reader. Stanza 2 continues the description of the nautilus as it is wrecked and comes to the end of its dim dreaming life. The tentacles of the nautilus, which inhabits the shell, look a bit like the sails of a ship.In stanza 2, Holmes uses the imagery of “webs of living gauze no more unfurl” to create the effect of the death of the nautilus. The nautilus is described as being a frail tenant of the spiral shell with the irised shell, which refers to the purple blue color of the inner shell. In stanza 3, Holmes reflects on the life of the nautilus. Continuing to speak to the reader,...
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