THESIS Williams uses of imagery, structure, and mood to comment on how choices create hardship.
Stanza 1: Even through difficult obstacles that are thrown at the man, he still stands on his own two feet. “are the stubborn man” (line 6) The man likes challenges. “He invites the storm, he lives by it!” (Lines 7-8) Stanza 1: The man has many opportunities nearing. “The sea will wash in” (Line 1) He is faced with the choice to either stand still and not take opportunities, or take himself to new heights with those opportunities. “or a knob or pinnacles with gannets.” (Lines 3-4) INTERPRETATION LeslieMicaela
Stanza 2: The man is driven by fear and his individual desires. His desires/inspiration allows him to see things differently, allowing him to possibly overcome the obstacles. “…instinct with fears that are not fears but prickles of ecstasy..” (Lines 8-10) Stanza 2: Although the man knows that certain actions have consequences, he continues to make negative choices, because they create a “high”/excitement. “…instinct with fears that are not fears but prickles of ecstasy..” (Lines 8-10) The stubbornness to stay stuck and continue to make negative choices leads to passing up opportunities. (Stuck in a cycle) “- so that the rocks seem rather to leap at the sea than the sea to envelope them.” (Lines 13-16) INTERPRETATION PT. 2 Leslie Micaela
The man sees the sky as the limit and says that he can overcome anything. “It is I! I who am the rocks!” (Line 21) Stubbornness leads to the downfall./crashing of the man’s life. “ –They strain forward to grasp ships or even the sky itself that bends down to be torn upon them.” (Lines 16-20) The man realizes that he is in control of his own life. “-To which he says, It is I! I who am the rocks! Without me nothing laughs.” (Lines 20-22) INTERPRETATION PT. 2 CONTINUED.. Leslie Micaela Stanza 2 Continued..
HELPFUL TERMS Ribs: Pointed rocks. Knob: A prominent rounded hill or mountain Pinnacles: A tall pointed formation, such as a mountain top. Gannets: Large sea birds with white feathers and black wing tips. Ecstasy: A stage of emotion so intense that one is carried beyond rational thoughts and self-control. ** These words are used to describe the sea (except for ecstasy).
LANGUAGE Point of view: Third-person (he, she, they)/First-person (I,me) (End of poem) Hyperbole/Metaphor: - “He invites the storm, he lives by it!” (Lines 7-8) - “It is I! I who am the rocks!” (Line 21) ۰ The sentences are being intentionally exaggerated through the use of the exclamation points. This creates emphasis on the metaphorical value. Imagery: - “but the rocks—jagged ribs” (line 2) - “or a knob or pinnacles with gannets” (Lines 4-5) - “He invites the storm..” (Line 7) - “- so that the rocks seem to rather leap” (Lines 13-14) ۰ Visual (seeing) and Kinesthetic (movement) are the main imagery aspects. Personification: - “..so that the rocks seem rather to leap” (Lines 13-14) ۰ Human characteristics are being given to the rock. A rock cannot literally leap. This infers that the rock (Rock symbolizes opportunities/hardships that are conquered). Symbolism: - The rock (object) constantly reappears throughout the poem. - The sea (object) constantly reappears throughout the poem. ۰ The objects are being emphasized through repetition.
STRUCTURE End-stopped: - “are the stubborn man.” (line 6) - “-he lives by it!” (lines 7-8) - “but the prickles of ecstasy,” (line 10) - “a secret liquor, a fire” (line 11) - “to envelope them. They strain” (Line 16) - “bends down to be torn upon them. To which he says, It is I! I who am the rocks! Without me nothing laughs.” (Lines 19-22) The end (punctuation) that occurs creates an abruptness in the way the poem is read, giving the poem a more serious tone.
STRUCTURE CONTINUED Stanzas: There are two stanzas. The first stanza has 6 lines, while the second stanza has 16 lines. The first stanza acts as an introduction, while the second stanza goes to the point. Repetition: There is a repetition of symbols throughout both stanzas. (Rocks, sea).
SOUND Alliteration: 1 st stanza… “but the rocks—jagged ribs riding the cloth of foam” (Lines 2-3) None of the lines exceed 6 words. (Very consistent in line length). There is no obvious rhyme scheme/rhyme scheme at all. The poem is not organized or structured in a specific way. This connects back to the overall meaning of the poem. This could relate back to the idea that all obstacles in life are different, and not one is the same. The un-organization could also relate to the idea that life can become “unorganized” if opportunities are continually missed. (Don’t have any routine). The consistency in line lengths creates a rythym. (Near the end..) “It is I! I who am the rocks! Without me nothing laughs” (Lines 21-22)
STYLE Anaphora: - “but the rocks-jagged ribs” (Line 2) - “but prickles of ecstasy” (Line 10) The use of “but” at the beginning of the two lines indicates the symbols/aspects that are getting in the way/ruining life (negative choices). - “or a knob or pinnacles” (Line 4) - “or even the sky itself that” (Line 18) The use of “or” indicates opportunities. (Ex: In the second stanza, the rocks don’t JUST grasp ships..)
STYLE CONTINUED.. Diction- Specific words are used to help convey deeper meaning. - “that inflames his blood to” (Line 12) The word choice of “inflames” conveys the effect of the fire on the man (the effect of the mini-highs he gets). - “They strain…” (Line 16) The word choice of “strain” refers to how much of an effect the negative choices have on the man. Mood- The mood is at first darker/negative, but it then turns positive near the end.
STYLE CONTINUED Motif- Imagery consistently reoccurs (The rocks, the sea). Implies that there is a re-occurring cycle of negative choices. Theme- Choices. Tone- The writer (Williams) shows admiration towards the seafarer (the subject).
ACTIVITY Which interpretation to do you feel is more accurate? Why? Based on your interpretation, how does the title relate to the poem? At a point in the poem, the tone and point of view shift. At what point in the poem does this occur? Why is this significant to the overall meaning? Answer the following questions on a sheet of paper. After 5 minutes, you will get into pairs and discuss your answers with a partner. We will then share a few responses as a class.
CONCLUSION Williams uses of imagery, structure, and tone to comment on how choices create hardship. The use of visual and kinesthetic imagery gives the reader a mental image regarding what is really being portrayed. Although the movement is used, it is not used in a literal way, adding extended metaphorical meaning (adds to the tone). The structure of the poem is a bit unorganized, and there is no specific rhyme scheme or structure to it. This parallels to the idea that all obstacles/choices in life are different,and there is no “direction” or specific way to overcome obstacles/make those choices The mood presented in the poem at first is very negative, but it then suddenly becomes positive near the end. The dark imagery (ex.: jagged rock), and diction (ex.: inflames, coldness) indicate hardship. Near the end the idea that hardship can be overcome when the tone is changed through hyperbole (emphasis).