Study Guide

Oread Lines 1-2

By H.D.

Lines 1-2

Line 1

Whirl up, sea—

  • In the first line of the poem, the Oread addresses, or speaks to, the sea directly in an apostrophe. She wants that sea to whirl up already. We imagine her standing on a large rock on the shore, facing the ocean, yelling at it. 
  • Nymphs aren't exactly known for being powerful—they're usually portrayed in mythology as dainty and lovely sprites. 
  • But our Oread is issuing a command to the ocean. Whirl up! Be fierce! she says. And, she's got a nice long dash at the end of the line, which suggests that she's not done commanding. 
  • What is this nymph doing, trying to control the sea? Is she extra-powerful? Or is she yelling a useless command?

Line 2

Whirl your pointed pines,

  • Our Oread keeps on commanding in this second line. She gets more specific, asking the sea to "whirl" its "pointed pines."
  • What's up with these pointed pines? The sea ain't got no pines! Well, it sounds to us like the Oread is comparing the sea to the forest; she's acting like the sea has pointy pine trees as the forest does. 
  • So, she's making a metaphor here. It's actually an extended metaphor, because it continues throughout the rest of the poem. The Oread refers to the sea's waves as pine trees. And we usually find pine trees in the forest, not in the sea. The Oread is using the language (and imagery) of the land to describe the ocean. Cool beans. 
  • This is a real Imagist-y moment. The Oread just gets right to the point. Instead of explaining that the sea is like the forest, she describes the sea using the terminology of the forest. There are no unnecessary words in this poem.
  • But this doesn't mean that the poem doesn't repeat. In fact, the first two lines begin with the same word, "whirl." This type of repetition at the beginning of a line is called anaphora. And this anaphora makes our Oread's command sound almost incantatory, like she's yelling a spell at the ocean. Ooo, magic times.