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Shvoong Home>Books>Poetry>Review on “the Ocean” by Lord Byron Review

Review on “the Ocean” by Lord Byron

Book Review   by:akso6o175     Original Author: Andy Kester Sawian
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‘The Ocean’ is an excerpt from ‘Child Harold’s Pilgrimage’ (Canto-IV) reveals Byron’s personality. The Ocean like the poet’s own self is unconquerable. It reflects the ‘Almighty Form’ and is a living and rolling ‘image of eternity’. The narrator calls upon the deep and dark ocean to roll on in its majesty. Each day ten thousand fleets of ships float, sail and sweep over it in vain. The powerful sovereigns and the rulers of the world may mark the boundaries of their empires on the face of the earth with ruin but their control stops with the shores. Upon the watery plain; this is contrast with the plains of the earth; the wrecks are all the deeds of the ocean. Nothing remains but a shadow of man’s ravage to save his own. When for a moment when he falls into the ocean he is like a drop of rain that sinks into its depth with bubbling groan and dies drowning without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined and unknown.
The steps of man are not upon the Ocean’s path. The fields of its vast waters are not a spoil for him. The ocean does not arise and shake man from its bosom. The vile strength that man wields from earth’s destruction is despised by the ocean. Spurning him from its bosom to the skies and sending him shivering in its playful spray; here playful is treated as an unsympathetic epithet; and howling in prayer to his gods where haply lies his petty hope in some port or bay. Then the ocean dashes him again to earth and there let him lay; lay for life is a common provincialism in English.
The armaments which thunder-strike the walls of rock-built cities, bidding nation’s quake right from their foundations; and monarchs tremble in their own capitals. The oak levathians whose ribs make their clay creator; ‘man who constructed them, himself being made of clay’; in vain creates his own title to be the lord of the ocean and the arbiter of war. These are the toys of the mighty ocean and like the snowflakes they melt into its yeast of waves which mar alike the Armada’s pride or spoils of Trafalgar; here it refers to the captured vessels which were lost in the winds that followed the Battle of Trafalgar.
The shores are the boundaries of the empires of the ocean. The empires of Assyria, Greece, Rome and Carthage are nothing compared to the empires of the ocean. The waters of the ocean washed the powers of these empires while they were free including their tyrants and their shores obey the stranger, slave or savage. Their decay had dried up realms to desert; by the decay of these empires fertile regions have been changed to parched deserts. But not the ocean, it does not change, saved to its wild waves play, for time does not calculate its age on its azure brow. The ocean is ageless since the start of its creation.
The ocean is a glorious mirror where the Almighty’s form glasses itself in tempest; the presence of God reveals itself in the awfulness of the tempestuous sea. Calm or convulsed, in breeze or gale or storm, icing the pole or in the torrid clime dark heaving- boundless, endless and sublime; the difference is that ‘boundless’ means ‘enclosed by no boundaries’ while endless means ‘ever-flowing on’. The ocean symbolizes the image of eternity and the throne of the invisible. Even out of its slime, the creatures of the deep are created. Each zone obeys it and it goes forth, dread, fathomless and alone.
The poet finally declares that he loves the ocean. His joy of youthful sports was on its breast to be worn like its bubble onward. From his boyhood he has a wanton desire with its breakers. They to him were a delight and if the freshening sea made them a terror, it was only a pleasing fear. He considers himself to be a child of the ocean and trusted to its billows far and near. He laid his hand upon its mane as he does here.

Published: September 11, 2010   
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