The use of imagery within a text allows a reader to create mental images based upon the descriptions offered by the author. Well written imagery appeals to the senses of the reader and offers spatial awareness in order to create a image with depth and detail.
Examples of imagery within the first twenty-five lines of "The Seafarer" are as follows.
1. "How the sea took me, and swept me back / and forth." This images allows readers to create a mental image where the speaker has been taken by the sea and tossed back and forth between the waves. Most readers are aware what the sea looks like and how it moves. The image of the speaker being jostled by the sea is made obvious by the sweeping motion of the water/waves one is typically familiar with.
2. "Smashing serf" refers to the waves crashing upon the beach or rocks. Similar to the previous image, this image illustrates the power of the water.
3. "Sweated in the cold" is an unusual image. Given the direct contradiction. some readers may feel confused by the image (being both hot and cold at the same time). That said, readers may have experience with being ill and breaking out in cold sweats. This type of experience will help the reader to create a mental image of sweating in the cold.
4. "My feet were cast / in icy bands, bound with frost" illustrates a very cold person. Having one's feet frozen solid by ice creates a very distinct image.
5. "Hunger tore" appeals to both taste and touch. To be hungry can bring about images of starving people. The personification of hunger (tearing at one) allows one to be very creative with the mental image created. Hunger could be represented by a beast tearing at one's stomach.
6. "Hung with icecicles...hailstorms flew" allow the reader to picture a very cold scene/ This scene is not only cold, it is dangerous. Engaged readers will picture ice flying from all directions.
7. The "song of the swan," "cry of the sea-fowl," " eagle's screams," and "mewing of gulls" all appeal to the reader's sense of sound. The multiple bord sounds compound the "noise" the reader may hear.