Find and define examples of imagery as it is presented in the poem, The Seafarer.  

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susan3smith's profile pic

susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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The "Seafarer" is an Anglo Saxon elegy that begins with a concrete description of the sea and ends with abstractions about the past, faith, and rules of conduct.  The beginning of the poem is filled with images that convey the miserable life of one sailing the north seas.  Images are descriptive words and phrases that appeal to our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

The images used in the poem appeal to many different senses.  We have auditory (hearing) images of the "smashing surf," "the deah-noise of birds," the "mewing of gulls," the echoes of the "icy-feathered terns," the "eagle's screams."  We also have such tactile (touch) images as the "icy bands" of sleet, the "ice-cold sea" as well as the visual (sight) images of the tossig salt waves and the "towering sea."

These images work to make the reader feel as if he or she is experiening the sea just as the seafarer did long ago.  We understand the sea's hardships--the cold, the loneliness, and the danger--and the difficult life that the seafarer has chosen.

andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Imagery refers to the technique a writer uses to create, in words, a picture in the reader's mind through the use of figurative language. Not only does the author use the technique for visualization, but also to enhance and emphasize a specific image or sentiment.

The translation of The Seafarer by Ezra Pound exhibits many such powerful representations and clearly creates images of the trials and tribulations a sailor has, or had to, endure.

The poem's first two lines present alliteration, a technique in which the consonants are repeated in consecutive words:

May I for my own self song's truth reckon, 
Journey's jargon
The repetition of the s and j sounds emphasizes the significance of the words in which it is used. The s signifies the fact that this 'song' is particular to the one who sings it, making him unique. This distinction is emphasized not only by the repetition of the j but also by the use of the word 'jargon' which indicates a specialized language used by sailors when they are at sea. The poet uses alliteration throughout the poem.
While she tossed close to cliffs in line 8 is personification. The poet gives the ship a human quality by referring to it as 'she.'
My feet were by frost benumbed. 
Chill its chains are
In these lines, both alliteration and a metaphor are used. A metaphor is a comparison between two things which have an element of agreement between them. In this instance, the poet states that the frost has chains which are icy cold. It is as if the frost has gripped the speaker's feet, removing all sensation with its icy grasp.
The heart turns to travel... in line 52, is synecdoche in which a part represents the whole. The heart is a symbol for the sailor's desire to go forth and it represents his whole being - it is his wish as an entire person.
Nor may he then the flesh-cover, whose life ceaseth,
Nor eat the sweet nor feel the sorry,
Nor stir hand nor think in mid heart, 
The repeated use of nor in these lines is called repetition and its function is to emphasize the resolve men should have to not complain about those they have lost but that they should, instead, see those who have died as a blessing for they have passed on so that they may live. In that sense then, their deaths have become a treasure.
There are many examples of the above images throughout the poem and careful reading should show them up. In the final analysis, the poem could also be seen as an extended metaphor for the trials we have to undergo in our journey towards spiritual enlightenment. 

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