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The Ocean

Symbol Analysis

This body of water isn't always mentioned directly in the poem, but it's definitely ever-present. The ocean is huge, deeply powerful, magical and a little scary. It swallowed the ship and it surrounds the diver. It's about as wild and as natural as you can get.

  • Line 32: This is the first direct mention of the ocean. It comes up as a surprise, since the diver can't see it as she moves down the ladder. This makes the ocean frightening, like something that could jump up and bite you. Imagine diving into a pool with your eyes closed.
  • Line 39-40: Here too the ocean is a stranger, although maybe not so frightening any more. The diver is learning to move underwater, to get used to the feeling of actually being "inside" the ocean. The ocean is completely in control though, and the diver can't fight it, can't use his or her power. There's a bit of alliteration here too, in the "s" sounds of sea and story. Rich uses these poetic techniques lightly, but effectively.
  • Line 85: Here's a case where the ocean is barely present, but still important. The speaker describes the log as being "water-eaten." It seems like an ordinary thing to say, but it gives an image of the ocean as a kind of animal. It gnaws and chews and slowly devours all the human things that fall into it. It has a slow, inescapable power that makes it a scary force in this poem.

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