In the third stanza, the author uses a metaphor and a simile to create effective meaning. The metaphor the author uses is the Sea of Faith. “The Sea of Faith /Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore” (Stanza three, line 1-2). The comparison being made is of a full body of water to a person’s faith in God. A sea is a vast body of water, water as far as the eye can see. The author is suggesting that a person’s faith should be similar to this vast, unending body of water—always full. In the next line, though, the phrase “was once, too at the full…” lets the reader know that the author feels people have less faith than they once did.
The simile is “Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar…” The sea is being compared to the folds of the bright girdle. A girdle is something that encircles the waist. Once, the author suggests, earth’s sea encircled the shore, and it was something bright and shining. Now, it is withdrawing with a melancholy roar.
The simile and metaphor are effective in creating meaning because people can relate to the images. If a person has seen the sea, he or she will be able to understand the idea of a full body of water and relate it to how faith should be. Most people have seen and wear belts, so the idea of the sea encircling the shore like a belt would be familiar to them, and they would be able to relate to the sad roar of the sea as it withdraws from the shore.