The main idea of The Sea by James Reeves is that the sea is similar to a dog in so many ways. They both share similar characteristics and behaviour. In fact, one can look at this poem as one long metaphor, mainly focusing on the similarity between the sea and the dog. The very first line of the first stanza spells out the metaphor quite clearly: “The sea is a hungry dog”. Moreover, the rest of the poem reinforces this idea by frequently referring to a dog’s physionomy: teeth, jaws, gnaws, bones, paws, sounds (howls, snores, licking, moans), and movement (rolls, bounds to his feet, shaking his wet sides).
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In the first stanza, the angry sea is described as a hungry dog who is gnawing at a bone. In fact, in this poem the sea is continuously described in terms of dog imagery: “clashing teeth and shaggy jaws”, “he gnaws”, “bones”, “licking his greasy paws”. In the second stanza, Reeves compares the rough and stormy sea at night to an uncontrollable wet dog who “shakes his wet sides”. The waves crashing into the cliffs also bring to mind an image of a dog in a tub of water: When the dog moves, there are waves, and they crash upon the walls and tub, causing little droplets to fall back down into the tub.
In the sea the waves, similarly, crash on the cliffs. The main twist in this poem takes place in the third stanza for the wild sea calms down as the seasons progress. In this stanza, the quiet, serene sea of Spring and Summer becomes a quiet sleepy dog with “his head between his paws / who lies on the sandy shores, / So quiet, so quiet, he scarcely snores”. The last stanza also draws attention to the fact about how serene the surroundings can be when the dog is asleep. Analysis of The Sea by James Reeves 1. This poem captures the different moods of nature and its extremes.
Nature can be both beautiful and attractive, and terrible and dangerous. This is clearly
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seen in the depictions of both sea and dog: – A hungry dog = The giant and grey stormy sea – His clashing teeth and shaggy jaws = rough waves rolling on the beach – He bounds to his feet (… ) shaking his wet sides = tempestuous high waves of the sea – His head between his paws = gentle ebb and flow of waves in calm weather Both sea and dog have different moods at different times: On the one hand, the sea can be very serene and tranquil on summer days just as the dog can be so quiet that he is barely heard snoring.
On the other hand, the sea can also be very dangerous in stormy nights when there are gales just as the dog can be uncontrollable when it’s in an energetic mood. 2. To give life to his poem, Reeves uses a number of literary tools. The poem is in fact famous for its lavish use of onomatopoeias, or sound words, to describe the poem vividly: “clashing”, “rumbling”, “roars”, “sniffs”, “snores” Throughout the poem, Reeves used one assonance of “o” and one alliteration of “s. ” The assonance of “o” falls in line 14 — “And howls and hollows long and loud.” The use of many o’s create a sound similar to echoes, which is similar to what the line is about. This could be referring to the echoes produced by dogs as they howl or the successive movement of the waves, one wave echoing another. In the last lines, lines 19-20, there is an alliteration/a case of consonance of “s”: “He lies on the sandy shores, / So quiet, so quiet, he scarcely snores” Similar to the assonance, it reflects what the line is about. In this line, the sea-dog is sleeping. So, James Reeves used “s” abundantly to reflect the constancy when the dog is sleeping.
Apart from the onomatopoeias, there is also a repetition of “bones” in line seven. This repetition reflects the constancy of the sound when the dog is gnawing on the juicy bone. The irregular rhythm: The irregular rhythm reflects the irregular motion of the sea, especially when it is uncontrollable. Notes on English Literature – C. Piscopo Page 3 James Reeves used several techniques in rhyming and rhythm to reflect what the poem is about. There is a special rhyme scheme throughout the poem, which is not strong at all.
However, this rhyming reflects about the “happenings” in that corresponding stanza. For example, one can argue that the poem’s rhyme scheme in the last stanza, for example, reflects that the dog is sleeping and everywhere is serene and calm. The rhythm in the last stanza (each line), is 9, 9, 7, 7, 7. It is obvious that these numbers are constant, which corresponds to the “happenings” in the poem. The poet also uses a lot of enjambment throughout the poem. These cases of enjambment also reflect the flow and continuity of water.See More on Poetry