Study Guide

Neither Out Far Nor in Deep Foolishness and Folly

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Foolishness and Folly

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull; (5-6)

The people along the sand stare at the sea even though there's nothing special happening out there. That ship keeps raising its hull, like usual, and yet they're still mesmerized for some reason. So just like the ship that never changes, the truth remains unchanged and unseen by the people, but they'll keep staring anyway.

The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull (7-8)

Right beside the people is a perfect example of just how isolating and dehumanizing all their staring can be. The gull looks kind of odd just standing around by itself. The wetter ground reflects the gull's image just like the gull reflects the people's behavior.

But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep? (15-16)

By the end, the speaker appears to suggest that all the searching for life’s truths is just part of human nature. Every "watch" we keep always has an element of foolishness to it since most of our search consists of unanswered (or unanswerable) questions.

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