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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;

The speaker establishes setting and mood in the first two lines. It is night, reflected in the imagery of the “black land,” and the speaker is on the ocean. The light of the yellow moon guides him on his journey as it hangs in the sky.

And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep

The sea is calm, contributing to the overall sense of anticipation the speaker feels on his journey. The waves are awakened by his passage, giving him a sense of control over elements of nature. The personification used to describe the waves also utilizes “fiery” as an adjective. Fire has many connotations as a symbol, but it could certainly represent passion, as it seems that nature is awakening as the lover hastily makes his way to his beloved.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears

The anticipation builds as the speaker exits the boat. First, he has to cross the beach for a mile, but it is described as warm and sea-scented, so the effect is again calming; the speaker is at peace with the natural world, which lends a peaceful presence to his long journey. Ultimately, the speaker looks for a farm, for that is where he can find his love.

And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each.

After tapping at her window in the night, the speaker is finally rewarded for his efforts with the vision of his beloved appearing before him. They are meeting in secret and must keep their voices low. They are both joyful to see each other and fearful, likely because appearing unannounced at a woman’s window (especially at this time) could have been seen as scandalous. Their emotions soar, and it seems that they can hear the beating of their hearts even louder than their hushed voices as they excitedly whisper during this meeting.

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