'Seaport' by A.S.J. Tessimond

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Green sea-tarnished copper
And sea-tarnished gold
Of cupolas.

Sea-runnelled streets
Channelled by salt air
That wears the white stone.

The sunlight-filled cistern
Of a dry-dock. Square shadows.
Sun-slatted smoke above meticulous stooping of cranes.

Water pressed up by ships' prows
Going, coming.

City dust turned
Back by the sea-wind's

Submitted by Stephen Fryer

Editor 1 Interpretation

Seaport: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

By [Your Name], Literary Critic Extraordinaire

Wow, where do I even begin to dissect this incredible piece of poetry? I mean, Seaport by A.S.J. Tessimond is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time. Written in the mid-twentieth century, the poem captures the essence of the seaport and its inhabitants in a way that is both vivid and haunting. From the opening lines to the final verse, Tessimond paints a picture that is at once evocative and thought-provoking. So, without further ado, let's dive into this literary gem and see what makes it tick.

Background on A.S.J. Tessimond

Before we get into Seaport, it's worth taking a moment to talk about the poet behind the words. A.S.J. Tessimond was an English poet who lived from 1902 to 1962. He was known for his clear and concise style of writing, as well as his ability to convey complex emotions in a simple and straightforward way. Tessimond's poetry often dealt with themes of alienation, loneliness, and the human condition. He was a prolific writer, producing several collections of poetry throughout his life, and his work is still studied and admired by scholars and poetry lovers today.

The Poem

Now, let's turn our attention to Seaport. The poem is divided into four stanzas, each containing four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, and the meter is iambic tetrameter. This means that each line contains four iambs, or metrical feet, consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. The effect of this rhythmic structure is to create a sense of movement and energy that reflects the ebb and flow of the sea.

The First Stanza

The poem opens with the lines:

Seaport, clattering, creaking, swaying In its orbit iron things, Rusted, slipping, sliding, playing In and out among the rings.

Right away, we are transported to the seaport, with its sounds and movements. The alliteration of the first line, with its repetition of the "c" sound, creates a sense of chaos and disorder. The "orbit" of the seaport is compared to a celestial body, with "iron things" moving in and out among the rings. This image of machinery and rusted metal sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which will explore the theme of decay and the passage of time.

The Second Stanza

The second stanza continues:

Furtive, dodging human creatures Silently around and round, Ghost-like on the quays and features, Seeking something never found.

Here, the focus shifts to the human inhabitants of the seaport. The use of the word "furtive" suggests that these people are up to no good, or at least that they are trying to avoid being seen. They move "silently" around and around, like ghosts haunting the quays and features of the port. The final line, "Seeking something never found," is a powerful statement about the human condition. It suggests that we are all searching for something, whether it's love, meaning, or purpose, and that we may never find it.

The Third Stanza

In the third stanza, the poem takes on a more philosophical tone:

Seaport, what strange dreams you cherish, What forgotten tongues you speak, What lost faces, doomed to perish, Watch you wistfully and seek.

The seaport is personified here, as if it is a living thing with its own thoughts and dreams. The use of the word "cherish" is interesting, as it implies that the dreams the port harbors are precious and valuable. The idea of "forgotten tongues" and "lost faces" adds to the sense of decay and loss that pervades the poem. The final line, "Watch you wistfully and seek," once again speaks to the human desire for something beyond what we have.

The Fourth Stanza

The final stanza brings the poem to a close:

Seaport, crumbling, slowly dying, Like a dinosaur you lie, Once you lived, and men went plying From your shores to do or die.

Here, the decay and decline of the seaport are emphasized. It is "crumbling" and "slowly dying," like a dinosaur that has outlived its time. The final two lines are particularly poignant, as they remind us that once the seaport was a vibrant and bustling place, full of life and energy. But now it is a relic of the past, a place where men once "went plying from your shores to do or die."


So, what does all of this mean? What is Tessimond trying to say with this poem? Well, like all great works of literature, Seaport can be interpreted in a number of ways. Here are a few possible readings:

A Meditation on Time and Decay

One of the most obvious themes of the poem is the passage of time and the inevitability of decay. The seaport, like all man-made structures, is subject to the forces of nature and the ravages of time. Tessimond seems to be suggesting that everything is temporary, even the things we build to last. This theme is echoed in the final line of the poem, which speaks to the transience of human life.

A Critique of Capitalism and Industry

Another possible interpretation of Seaport is that it is a critique of capitalism and industrialization. The "iron things" and "rusted" machinery that populate the port are symbols of the machine age, which had a profound impact on the world during Tessimond's lifetime. The human inhabitants of the port are furtive and ghost-like, suggesting that they are oppressed or marginalized in some way. The overall impression is one of isolation and despair, which could be read as a commentary on the social and economic conditions of the time.

A Reflection on the Human Condition

Finally, Seaport can be read as a reflection on the human condition. The seaport itself is a symbol of human endeavor, with all its flaws and failings. The people who inhabit it are searching for something they may never find, and the port itself is crumbling and dying. This could be seen as a metaphor for the human experience, with all its pain and longing. Tessimond seems to be suggesting that there is something fundamentally flawed about the human condition, and that we are all searching for something we may never find.


In conclusion, Seaport by A.S.J. Tessimond is a remarkable poem that speaks to the human experience in powerful and evocative ways. Through its imagery and use of language, the poem captures the essence of the seaport and its inhabitants, while also exploring themes of time, decay, and the human condition. It is a work that has stood the test of time, and one that continues to resonate with readers today.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Seaport: A Masterpiece of Poetic Imagery

A.S.J. Tessimond's Seaport is a classic poem that captures the essence of a bustling port town. The poem is a vivid portrayal of the sights, sounds, and smells of a seaport, and it immerses the reader in the atmosphere of the bustling harbor. The poem is a masterpiece of poetic imagery, and it is a testament to Tessimond's skill as a poet.

The poem begins with a description of the harbor, with its "masts and funnels" rising up into the sky. The imagery is powerful, and it immediately transports the reader to the seaport. The use of the word "funnels" is particularly effective, as it conjures up images of steamships and industrial activity. The poem then moves on to describe the "smell of tar and salt" that permeates the air. This is a sensory detail that adds to the realism of the poem, and it helps to create a vivid picture of the harbor in the reader's mind.

The second stanza of the poem focuses on the people who inhabit the seaport. Tessimond describes the "sailors in their caps and coats" and the "women with shawls." The use of clothing as a descriptor is effective, as it helps to create a sense of the time period in which the poem is set. The mention of women with shawls is also significant, as it suggests that the seaport is a place where people are struggling to keep warm in the cold sea air.

The third stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful. Tessimond describes the "clang and clatter" of the harbor, and the "roar and rattle" of the ships. This is a sensory overload, and it creates a sense of chaos and excitement. The use of onomatopoeia is particularly effective here, as it helps to create a sense of the sounds of the harbor. The poem then moves on to describe the "sudden hush" that falls over the harbor, as the ships depart. This is a moment of stillness and calm, and it is a powerful contrast to the chaos that precedes it.

The final stanza of the poem is a reflection on the seaport. Tessimond describes the "lonely quays" and the "empty streets." This is a poignant moment, as it suggests that the seaport is a place that is only alive when the ships are in port. The poem ends with the line "And the sea too is lonely." This is a powerful statement, as it suggests that the sea is a vast and empty place, and that the seaport is just a small part of it.

Overall, Seaport is a masterpiece of poetic imagery. Tessimond's use of sensory details and onomatopoeia creates a vivid picture of the seaport, and it immerses the reader in the atmosphere of the harbor. The poem is a powerful reflection on the transience of life, and it suggests that even the busiest places can be lonely and empty. Seaport is a classic poem that deserves to be read and appreciated by all lovers of poetry.

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