Applied Criticism Essay

“The Ocean” is a poem by Nathaniel Hawthorne, indicating that lost sailors find peace after death in the ocean’s depths. The start of this poem suggests the various sections that the ocean has, including the peaceful ocean floor, furious waves, and silent caves. The “young, the bright, the fair” are found at the bottom of the Ocean, and they rest calmly(Hawthorne 8). In this poem, the speaker indicates the ocean and earth have feelings, which would help create the happiness that helps lost sailors overcome despair. Poe’s poetic theory will be applied in the analysis of this poem. In particular, Poe would praise this poem Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Ocean” because of elevating the audience’s excitement through reading it and assisting in eliciting emotions among the readers.

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Analysis using Poe’s Poetic Theory

A poem must have an appropriate title that indicates its content to the audience. According to Poe, a poem should deserve its title, and the Ocean seems to align with this element. In particular, the poem significantly describes the Ocean and creates meaning out of this title. In the poem, the ocean is more than a water body, it has been personified, and the poem indicates that it has ‘silent caves’ (Hawthorne 1). Notably, on the surface of this ocean are elements of fury and passion, but below this surface are indicated to have calmness and serenity. In this calmness of the ocean, the lost sailors find peace after their deaths. Examining the title and the poem’s content indicates that it deserves its title.

The size of the poem is a critical element of a poem, and it should not be too short or too long. Poe noted that a long poem does not exist, indicating that he only believed that all poetry works should be short (Poe). In the current case, the Ocean is a short poem that could be shorter than Poe needed. For Poe, a short poem should be about 100 lines, and the current one has sixteen lines. However, his liking for short poems over long ones could make him still feel that the Ocean is a good and effectively written poem.

A poem needs to communicate effectively to the intended audience. Poe indicated the need for a poem to be short and precise. The Ocean is precise and short and speaks accurately about its subject. It allows the audience to understand that ocean floors are graves for lost sailors. The poem’s short and precise nature makes the communication effective and less complicated for the audience.

Poems should be entertaining to the audience and would make people enjoy them. The poem should elevate the soul and excite the audience, which is the poem’s value. The excitement elicits different emotions, and the current work has been done perfectly in this aspect. The subject matter is the death of lost sailors, to whom “unquiet graves” would be unsuitable (Hawthorne 14). In the Ocean, the poem entertains the audience and makes people enjoy it by appealing to the reader’s emotions.

Poe indicated that a poem should inculcate morals. In a poem, the poet must demonstrate pure intellect, taste, and moral sense (Poe). In the present case, the poem seems to indicate this aspect, and there is the application of different literal devices that show intellect and improve the taste of this poem. The imagery, metaphor, and personification in this poem indicate the quality of this poem and could be used to understand the subject matter.

A poem helps the poet to communicate and express their feelings and emotions to the world. Poe indicated that the power of expression needs to be seen through a poem and seems to come out effectively in the Ocean. The poem’s diction suggests that the sailors would have a peaceful and welcoming afterlife at the bottom of the Ocean. The views and feelings of the persona and poet are seen through this poem, and the power of expression is realized.

The author has used images in this poem, which helps the audience understand the subject matter of this poem. Literary devices have been used to communicate the subject matter of this poem. The poem has indicated the element of death figuratively and literally, and the devices have enabled this to happen successfully. Additionally, there has been the successful use of a helpful tone in this poem. The tone used in this poem is peaceful and serene and is displayed through euphonious diction. It has helped create the right mood for the topic and communicate the message effectively.

According to Poe, the poem should be rhythmical creation of beauty. The poet has tried to realize this element in the current poem through rhyme schemes and metrical patterns. Mainly, in the Ocean, the rhyme scheme is simple, ensuring adequate pacing and significant concentration on the subject matter. The rhyming words in the different lines aim to create an appropriate and proper rhythm for this poem.

The meter in the poem helps achieve the rhythmical creation that Poe indicates. In particular, different beats in the Ocean are essential aspects that would make Poe feel that this poem is a compelling piece. The short lines that this poem uses and the reduced number of syllables for every line assist in realizing a slower pace, giving the readers time to experience this work’s deliberateness wholly.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Ocean. Poetry Foundation.

Works Cited

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Poetic Principle.” 1903.