All you should know about the poem “The Sea” by James Reeves. The sea is being compared to a dog.

The Sea by James Reeves

This poem does not contain a deep meaning. Using a metaphor, Reeves compares the sea to a dog:

“The sea is a dog,

Giant and grey.”

In the first stanza, the sea smashing against the rock is seen by the poet as a dog gnawing bones. The “clashing teeth and shaggy jaws” are referring to the waves and the surf of the sea breaking down the rocks and cliff sides. Reeves interprets the sound of the sea against pebbles and rocks as if it is saying, “Bones, bones, bones, bones!” In the second stanza, Reeves compares a windy night to a dog standing on his feet snuffing and sniffing. The spray of the sea when rough is compared to the shaking of a dog’s body in order to remove as much of the water on his body as possible. As clouds move in front of the moon, the latter looks like a ship moving in the waves. Reeves is comparing the sound of a storm with the wolf-like sound made by dogs. The third stanza has to do with summer. Reeves compares the calm sea in this season with a sleeping dog that “scarcely snores”. By saying that the dog is still breathing, the poet means that there is still slight movement typical of North Seas.

Due to the poem’s enjambment, the rhythm of the poem is quite fast. With the exception of the first stanza which has three full stops, each stanza contains a large number of commas but only one full stop.

Moreover the stanzas are not equal. The first one contains nine lines, the second, five and the third six lines. This inconsistency could be compared with the sea described in this poem which is also unstable. The rhyming scheme is also inconsistent.

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  • Raja Wimalaratne on Dec 7, 2010

    This is quite useful though a bit too short However thanks and may i expect more such dole outs as I ma in search of criticisms of this nature and more with advanced detailed one s. Thanks once again

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