The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“Bermudas” is a short poem of eight-syllable (octosyllabic) lines arranged in iambic tetrameter couplets. The poem begins with a four-line exordium, or introduction, by a narrator. The next thirty-two lines consist of a song of thanksgiving being sung by people in a boat as they row. The poem then ends with a peroration, or conclusion, of four lines by the narrator, who identifies the people as English.

In the first section, an omniscient narrator—a mysterious persona who is so objective that he seems to be absent from the scene—immediately situates the action of the poem in the Bermudas (a group of more than two hundred islands, also simply called Bermuda). His description of the islands as “remote” and “unespy’d” creates the image of a distant, hidden, and private place. Since there are no human observers to the scene, only “The listning Winds” hear the song of the people in the boat.

The song, which is a hymn of praise and gratitude to God, has four parts. In the first part (lines 5-12), the boatmen praise God for having brought them safely across the Atlantic Ocean (“the watry Maze”) to the Bermudas. Although these waters had begun to be charted since the discovery of the New World, ocean voyages were still risky undertakings in Marvell’s day. (The islands had been discovered by Europeans only in 1515 and settled in 1609 by Sir George Somers.) The reference to this “Isle” as “far kinder than our own” has...

(The entire section is 575 words.)