Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
[…] There I heard nothing
but the roaring sea, the ice-cold wave.
At times the swan's song I took to myself as pleasure,
the gannet's noise and the voice of the curlew
instead of the laughter of men, the singing gull
instead of the drinking of mead. […] (17-22)
The speaker's focus on these birds shows just how desperate he is for companionship. Even though those birdsongs are a poor substitute for the laughter of men, he's willing to listen because that's pretty much all there is to hear.
[…] Storms there beat the stony cliffs,
Where the tern spoke, icy-feathered;
always the eagle cried at it, dewy-feathered; (22-24)
These bird cries aren't the wistful sounds they were in lines 17-22. Now they indicate the struggle for life of both tern and eagle as the eagle seeks to make a meal of the smaller bird.
The shadows of night darkened, it snowed from the north,
frost bound the ground, hail fell on the earth,
coldest of grains. […] (31-33)
It's getting downright nasty out there. This description of worsening winter weather occurs just before the speaker launches into a description about how he feels troubled. So maybe, just maybe, the arrival of the storm signals the arrival of another storm inside our speaker. The weather acts as a barometer of what he's feeling.