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Analysis

This is a poem that manages to sound a lot like what it describes. The steady, lulling rhythm of the poem – the repetition, with slight differences, of the same sounds over and over – sounds like the repeated crash of waves on a shore. Try reading it out loud, or listen to one of the recordings in the "Best of the Web" section. It's easy to imagine floating on your back in the ocean, letting the words and waves wash over you. The lilting repetition of some of the same sounds ("O, well," "O Sea!") and the consistent and simple rhyme scheme can practically lull you to sleep. Don't be fooled into falling asleep, though – there's a lot going on in this poem beneath the smooth surface.

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