illustrated portrait of English poet WIlliam Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

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How can one analyze the poem "By The Seaside" by William Wordsworth?

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English poet laureate for most of the 19th century, William Wordsworth was considered the premier Romantic poet in English literature. His poems tend to focus on nature and he spent most of his life living in the one of the most beautiful areas of England, the Lake District.

"By the Seaside" is essentially a poem about nature, but like most of Wordsworth's poems, it is about what nature can do for the soul. As the speaker looks out on the sea at dusk he sees the calm after a storm:

The sun is couched, the sea-fowl gone to rest, 
And the wild storm hath somewhere found a nest....

Later in the poem, Wordsworth contrasts this scene with the commerce of ships on the ocean which disturb the tranquility:

Where, now, the ships that drove before the blast, 
Threatened by angry breakers as they passed; 
And by a train of flying clouds bemocked; 
Or, in the hollow surge, at anchor rocked....

He speaks of English ships that travel to Norway, the Baltic and Calabria, on the Italian coast, and hopes that they will once again see the "benign" British waters. The final lines see the return of the ships and he urges a thank you to God for safe passage:

Ye mariners, that plough your onward way, 
Or in the haven rest, or sheltering bay, 
May silent thanks at least to God be given 
With a full heart; "our thoughts are 'heard' in heaven."

The poem is written in iambic pentameter, meaning each line contains five stressed syllables and five unstressed syllables. The first 32 lines are written in couplets followed by a tercet and finishing with two more couplets. An example of personification is when Wordsworth says, "the wild storm hath somewhere found a nest."

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