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On the Sea by John Keats


"On the Sea" is an Elizabethan sonnet written by John Keats. In this poem, Keats personifies the sea as a God-like being. Keats first displays the sea to be an adversary, but quickly we learn that the sea is restorative and nourishing. We use it for our own wellbeing.

"On the Sea" is, like many sonnets (this one Elizabethan), written in iambic-pentameter. It has the rhyme scheme ABBAABBCCDEDGG.


On the Sea

It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often 'tis in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be moved for days from whence it sometime fell,
When last the winds of heaven were unbound.
Oh ye! who have your eye-balls vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody, -
Sit ye near some old cavern's mouth, and brood
Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs choired!

Written in 1817.

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Literary Movement
Romanticism, 18th Century

Sonnet, Sea, Personification

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