Explore How the Poet Creates the Scene in the Poem ‘in Romney Marsh’
Explore how the Poet Creates the Scene in the Poem ‘In Romney Marsh’. This poem centres on the experiences of the poet in the place Romney Marsh. Right from the beginning, we can tell that this is not going to be just an ordinary description of a place, because had it been that, the poet would have just named it ‘Romney Marsh’. The addition of the word ‘In’ makes the poem sound like an account of things that have happened there.
This is backed up immediately by the first stanza, which begins with ‘As I went…’ The fact that it is in the first person immediately sets the tone, and informs the reader that this is a personal story of the poet’s experiences with the Marsh. The anaphora of ‘I’ in the first stanza also helps to bring this out. Throughout the poem the poet makes frequent use of the senses. Sounds are very prominent in this poem, as they bring the place to life. For example, ‘ringing shrilly’, or ‘clashed on the shore’.
In the former example, at the start of the second stanza, this phrase is significant, as it effectively kills the jovial, relaxed mood from the first stanza, and creates a rather more eerie one. This mood does not last long however, and with the phrase ‘a veil of purple vapour flowed’, the jovial mood is restored. This image is one of several, along with ‘like sapphire glowed’, and ‘the saffron beach, all diamond drops’, which contain royal and rich connotations, emphasising how special this place is for the poet, that he would go as far as to compare it to expensive, valuable things like diamonds or saffron.
The tranquil mood is upheld throughout by words of gentle movement such as ‘flowed’, ‘trailed’, or ‘wagged’. These all bring the place to life and give it a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. There are several examples throughout the poem of religious imagery, whereby the poet compares something in the marsh to something sacred or deeply religious. For example, ‘roses filled Heaven’s central gates’. Here he has possibly arrived at Dymchurch wall and could be comparing a gate there to a gate in Heaven, which again emphasises how this marsh is effectively like heaven for the poet.
The poet uses several metaphors and similes to bring out his admiration for the marsh. When night falls, he compares the stars that come out to ‘flakes of silver fire’, which presents a rather romantic image of the marsh. In the fourth stanza he continues his trend of comparing the marsh to rich and royal things, by saying ‘beads of surge’. Here he is really describing the white of the waves, and comparing it to pearls. There s also plenty of personification, most notably in the first stanza, where he writes ‘I heard the South sing o’er the land’, referring to the south wind, and personifying it to bring the place to life. Alliteration also plays a key role in this poem, especially in the first stanza, where there is alliteration in every line. For instance, ‘down to Dymchurch’, or ‘knolls where Norman…’ This alliteration adds to the rhythmic, musical feeling to create a peaceful, positive atmosphere at the start of the poem. There is also sibilance used to imitate the sound of the wind, in ‘South sing’.
In the phrase ‘flicker and fade from out the west’, the poet uses alliteration to bring out the movement of fire, comparing the sunset to bits of fire falling from the sky. This poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which gives a rhythmic feeling to the poem, and it might imitate the rhythm of the poet’s footsteps on his journey through the marsh. The regular alternate rhyme scheme reflects the harmony between all of the elements of Romney Marsh. The structure is seven regular stanzas, and it parallels his journey through the marsh.
From the fifth stanza onwards, he has turned around and is heading back. He writes similar phrases to the early stanzas, but simply inverts them. For example, ‘as I went down to Dymchurch Wall’, becomes ‘as I came up from Dymchurch Wall’. In the penultimate stanza, there is a caesura in the first line, which breaks up the rhythm and creates a pause to mark the big moment of ‘Night sank:’ This blunt statement indicates that he might be sad that he can’t see his lovely marsh any longer, but his sadness then disappears as he describes the beautiful night sky.