Analysis of "The Sound of the Sea" by Henry Wadswort Longfellow

1017 WordsApr 22, 20125 Pages
“The Sound of the Sea” is a sonnet by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, describing the sounds of the sea and relating it to human inspiration. Through only auditory images of the sea and other powerful natural forces, Longfellow effectively alludes to the nature of human inspiration. Through detailed and sensory imagery, Longfellow communicates the subtle details of the human soul and how inspiration functions. “The Sound of the Sea” consists of fourteen lines and a particular rhyme scheme (abba abba cde cde). The first eight lines of the poem consist of one drawn out sentence, which is the description of the sound of the sea and other natural forces, which then in the final sestet, which also consists of only one sentence, are used by…show more content…
Furthermore the labial sounds of the letters “p” and “b” in “pebbly beaches” give an uneven pronunciation to the words, which are contrasted with the smooth drawn out “ar”, “ide” sounds in the words far, wide and tide. This contrast serves to communicate the scattered nature of our consciousness with the unity, elegance and fluidity of our subconscious. Furthermore, these drawn out sounds serve to also further the imagery of the tide’s “uninterrupted sweep” which is particularly effective in conveying the image of the wave rushing to envelope the shore, the word “uninterrupted” conveying this sense that the wave of inspiration is all smooth and relentless. This imagery is furthered by the 3 line-long segment, uninterrupted by punctuation. Yet, the central point made in these four lines is when the speaker states that “(he) heard” the waves. The description of the sea gives you a mental image, but Longfellow stresses upon the fact that the speaker only hears the tide, as this can be seen reflected in the title of the poem “The Sound of the Sea”. Hearing is an auditory action that allows one to be aware of the presence of the object through the sound, but not visually or physically grasp it. This suggests that inspiration is similar, in the sense that one can be aware of it but cannot consciously grasp, control or dominate it. In the fourth line, Longfellow states that it’s “A voice” from the “silence of the deep”. Here, the reader once

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