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Analysis: Setting

Where It All Goes Down

You could think of this as the beginning of every spring break movie – or even that first scene in The Perfect Storm. The camera focuses in on a charming seaside, right at the place where the beach meets the water.

But instead of panning out to start your very favorite chick flick or movie about nautical destruction, this poem stays up close and personal, focusing in on those tiny details that you'd probably never notice in a story with love and adventure or, um, people. That's right – in the absence of anything else, we finally begin to concentrate on the image of a sea rose. As it turns out, the rose is pretty phenomenal. It not only survives in an arid landscape but also manages to make a life between the water and the land.

You could say that this poem is all about setting: after all, it's about the way a rose looks and lives. It's focused on the things that might just have been, well, setting in any other poem.

Then again, it's pretty clear that this rose doesn't live in any fixed place at all. It's right on the line between the sea and the sand. And if you've ever been to the ocean, you know that that boundary is constantly changing. The ocean sucks in sand and spits it out again, making it impossible to draw a fixed boundary between the two.

So, a poem that's all about setting has no solid setting? Disturbing, isn't it? We're guessing that that's exactly the point.

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