(Poetry for Students)

Throughout the poem, Tagore includes images and symbols that suggest the idea of human frailty. In the beginning of the poem, the children meet on the seashore, but “the restless water is boisterous,” an ominous sign that something bad could happen. The children use “withered leaves,” which represent the dead parts of a tree, since leaves die after they fall from a tree. They use these leaves to “weave their boats,” which they set adrift “on the vast deep.” The deepness of the ocean also suggests mortality, since the ocean’s vastness is permanent and can easily capsize the boats or drown the children, especially since “They know not how to swim.” While the children play, the adults in the poem, represented by the “Pearl fishers” and “merchants,” are intimately aware of their need to survive. Even if the “restless water” does not kill them, they could starve if they do not find enough pearls or sell enough goods to feed themselves. The death imagery in the poem becomes even more prominent near the end of the poem, when Tagore envisions the sea beach gleaming a “pale” smile. Paleness is often associated with sickness and death, so if the beach is gleaming, it could be a bad portent. In fact, as the next line notes, the sea contains “Death-dealing waves.” By the end of the poem, a tempest is raging, “ships get wrecked,” and “death is abroad.”

While adults like the pearl fishers and merchants are aware of this imminent death, the children in the poem are blissfully innocent. They meet “with shouts and dances” while the water is getting...

(The entire section is 672 words.)