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“The Ocean” by George Gordon Byron Critical Essay


Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) was as famous poet in his lifetime; this is because of his personality cult and for his poetry. Byron is mostly known for his creation of the idea of the ‘Byronic hero’ – this is a, “glum young man, growing on some mysterious, unforgettable event in his past” (Watkins, p. 35).

Byron’s has a great influence on the European poetry, literacy writing, music and art. He had been immense, although some of his poems were widely condemned on moral grounds by his critics. However, Byron still remains a great poet even in these times with his poems being published in several poetry books.

Byron was celebrated in his life for his general life excesses including huge debt and several love affairs, rumors of a shocking incestuous connection with his half-sister, and self-imposed exile (Watkins, p. 36).

However, he remained famous and was described by Lady Caroline Lamb as “mad, bad and dangerous to know” (Watkins, p. 36). Other people said that he also suffered from bipolar disorder, or manic depression.

Byron remained a much controversial man and even participated in the war against the Ottoman Empire during the Greek War of Independence; this has since seen Greeks revere him as a national hero (Watkins, p. 38).

Lord Byron died at a tender age of 36 years after succumbing from a fever he contracted while in Missolonghi in Greece (Watkins, p. 38). Bryon lived to write many romantic poems in his life and was fond of using women and love affection in his works.

He was a good poet and was able to compose poems that combined different poetic devises like rhyme, metaphors, simile, alteration and, sometimes, songs. He was also a great composer of music songs, which were of a romantic nature.

One of his works is called the “The Ocean”. It is one of the common poems by this writer. The poem has been translated to many languages, and several poets have drawn several themes from this poem.

The poem uses several features of nature and the general environment as part of its style in sending the message to the audience.

In this poem, “the ocean”, George Gordon employs several poetic devices in realizing the theme in the poem. As usual, Lord Gordon has employed some romance and a sense of affection in his poem, which is a character associate in most of his poems.

This poetic period in itself was a revolution that was greater than other writing works. While the earlier era was based on order, rules, and logic, the poetic period was based on other foundation (Sprague, p. 66).

This poetic period was inspired by early emotions and passion, nova art and wild feelings earlier to this; poetry was so much in vigor was considered as heresy of literature work. Other areas affected were music and art, but poetry was the largest affected by the revolution (Sprague, p. 67).

Unlike in the previous poems by this poet, he had followed strict rule of poetry for the composition of this work. The poem is written in the era when music was majorly used in the poems and other literacy works like opera and plays. In this poem, the poet uses rhyming as one of the stylistic devices.

The rhyming scheme in this poem is like the one used by William Shakespeare in his sense of iambic pentameter accompanied with repetitive rhyme methods (Sprague, p. 67).

The poet used poetry to idolize his sense and thinking and employed this rhyming scheme to create the much needed musical sensation in his poem.

For example, in the first stanza, the poet uses rhymes like, steal, feel, roar, shore, to bring the musical feeling and drive the intended message to the audience. In this poem, the poet insists on sending a message of love.

In this poem, the poet has used imagery to narrate his poem and depict the theme; a lot of imagery has been used in the entire poem from the first stanza to the last one. For example, the poet compares the joy of the ocean to that of a youthful boy. He combines both rhyme and simile in this line to describe his joy.

Following the use of imagery in the poem, Lord Byron focuses the story in the poem by exclaiming some wild emotions to the ocean. He writes as if he was really talking to a real woman who he sorely loved or desired.

In the first four stanzas of this poem, the poet differentiates and finds similarities between the images of the Earth and the ocean. Byron often used epic scenery as one of the fundamental parts of his major poetry works.

In line fifth line of the poem, the writer shows an enormous size in exasperation on the subject of love (Sprague, p. 67). A good example of figurative work is seen, whereby the poet is referring to the large ocean. From stanza 10 to 13, the poem uses personification in reference to various things he discusses.

The poet uses the words “The Invincible Armada” to mean a specific Armada which actually existed (Sprague, p. 67). During his earlier life, a large Spanish fleet of over 130 left the city Corunna in 1858 and attacked the English ships, however, they were defeated (Sprague, p. 67). Surprisingly, the sailor was Lord Gordon himself.

The poet also goes further to talk of a man challenging the powers of the Earth and ocean. Byron once again shows his source of poetic passions and love. Byron also uses the metaphor in stanza 30 – 35 referring to a sea struggle. In this part, Byron indirectly acknowledges the Spanish Armada once again.

In Lines 36 – 38, Byron uses imagery to refer to ancient cities of power. These cities include Carthage Greece, Rome, Assyria and Rome. These were cities which had great influence in the early years in the world, and specifically Europe. The cities were leaders during pinnacles of ancient civilizations of their time.

Interestingly, all of them collapsed due to several inner turmoil caused by several factors like corruption and greed. In lines 44 down to line 47, Byron creates an image of reflection. In these lines, Byron uses water ice, and wind. All of these things symbolize mirror properties.

Byron also used other environmental and nature features like the ocean, desert, winds and earth. He gives these features images and sensory appeals. Byron uses the characteristics of wind, fire, water, and earth, in the poem. This is a poetry technique commonly used in Japanese poetry.

In lines 48 through 52, the poet uses a form of finalization in the characteristic portion of the poetry piece. For example, in Line 48, he talks of ” Dark-heaving; – boundless, endless, and sublime” these words show one images of immortality.

They also bring out the theme of life after death (eternal life) (Watkins, p. 37). The poet uses things that cannot be forgotten to depict his themes.

In the last stanzas, the poet tries to conclude his message. For example, in line 53, the poet uses imagery to draw his attention. In this line, he refers to the ocean as an inanimate object that is referred to as if it were a woman.

In normal circumstances, a woman is associated with emotions which are attributed to the ocean in this case. In this stanza, the ocean has been given all of the qualities every man can desire from a woman. He uses metaphor to represent these qualities in aquatic terms.

In conclusion, this poem is about a woman. However, Lord Byron does not write exactly about one woman in particular. He even does not talk of a real woman sometimes, but he uses imagery and poetic techniques to drive his message and composed this poem with the emotions of a real man to a real woman.

He gives this poem life and uses the features of nature to inspire the readers and have the picture of the poem in their mind. Although Byron was believed to have many love affairs, in real life, he had nothing to do with it in this poem. He exhibited a good character and was able to differentiate two worlds.

Byron was able to oddly enough keep a well secluded character in his life. Indeed, Byron was a romantic. This gave him the passion to write about love and ardent passion, however, most of his characters were fictitious, even his targets were fictitious, and the women never existed.

Works Cited

Sprague, Henry. A guide to Romantic Period Poetry. Glascow, Scotland: Lochstone Publications, 2002. Print.

Watkins, Daniel P. Violence, Class Consciousness. And Ideology in Byron’s History Plays: John Willy Inc. 1981. Poetic Analysis. (By National Speech Arts Association). Boston Massachusetts: Dunlan – Co. 1893.

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IvyPanda. (2019, June 26). "The Ocean" by George Gordon Byron. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ocean-by-george-gordon-byron/

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""The Ocean" by George Gordon Byron." IvyPanda, 26 June 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-ocean-by-george-gordon-byron/.

1. IvyPanda. ""The Ocean" by George Gordon Byron." June 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ocean-by-george-gordon-byron/.


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IvyPanda. ""The Ocean" by George Gordon Byron." June 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ocean-by-george-gordon-byron/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. ""The Ocean" by George Gordon Byron." June 26, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ocean-by-george-gordon-byron/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) '"The Ocean" by George Gordon Byron'. 26 June.

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