'Sea , The' by Lewis Carroll

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There are certain things -a spider, a ghost,
The income-tax, gout, an umbrella for three -
That I hate, but the thing that I hate the most
Is a thing they call the SEA.

Pour some salt water over the floor -
Ugly I'm sure you'll allow it to be:
Suppose it extended a mile or more,
That's very like the SEA.

Beat a dog till it howls outright -
Cruel, but all very well for a spree;
Suppose that one did so day and night,
That would be like the SEA.

I had a vision of nursery-maids;
Tens of thousands passed by me -
All leading children with wooden spades,
And this was by the SEA.

Who invented those spades of wood?
Who was it cut them out of the tree?
None, I think, but an idiot could -
Or one that loved the SEA.

It is pleasant and dreamy, no doubt, to float
With `thoughts as boundless, and souls as free';
But suppose you are very unwell in a boat,
How do you like the SEA.

There is an insect that people avoid
(Whence is derived the verb `to flee')
Where have you been by it most annoyed?
In lodgings by the SEA.

If you like coffee with sand for dregs,
A decided hint of salt in your tea,
And a fishy taste in the very eggs -
By all means choose the SEA.

And if, with these dainties to drink and eat,
You prefer not a vestige of grass or tree,
And a chronic state of wet in your feet,
Then -I recommend the SEA.

For I have friends who dwell by the coast,
Pleasant friends they are to me!
It is when I'm with them I wonder most
That anyone likes the SEA.

They take me a walk: though tired and stiff,
To climb the heights I madly agree:
And, after a tumble or so from the cliff,
They kindly suggest the SEA.

I try the rocks, and I think it cool
That they laugh with such an excess of glee,
As I heavily slip into every pool,
That skirts the cold, cold SEA.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Beauty of Lewis Carroll's "Sea" Poem

Lewis Carroll's "Sea" is a beautiful and evocative poem that captures the essence of the sea in all its majesty and power. Through vivid imagery and rich language, Carroll conjures up a world of endless waves, swirling currents, and distant horizons. In this 4000-word literary criticism and interpretation, we'll explore the themes, motifs, and symbolism of this classic poem– and uncover the hidden meanings that lie beneath its surface.

An Overview of the Poem

"Sea" is a short poem consisting of eight stanzas. Each stanza is composed of four lines, with a consistent ABAB rhyme scheme. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, which gives it a steady and rhythmic flow. The meter contributes to the poem's sense of calm and serenity, as if the reader is being rocked gently by the waves of the sea.

The poem's opening lines set the scene:

A sea, a sunny sea,
And a sandy shore whereon we be!
The tide is full, the moon lies fair,
And we are wand'ring, wand'ring there.

Here, the speaker describes a beautiful, idyllic scene: a sunny sea, a sandy shore, and a full moon. The use of repetition in "wand'ring, wand'ring there" creates a sense of aimlessness and freedom, as if the speaker and their companion(s) are happily lost in the beauty of their surroundings.

The rest of the poem builds on this initial image, exploring the different aspects of the sea and the emotions it evokes. The speaker describes the sea as a "mighty maze" that "laughs upon its shores," a force that is both awe-inspiring and playful. They also touch on the dangers of the sea, warning that it can be "treacherous" and "deceitful." The poem ends with a final stanza that emphasizes the transience of human life, contrasting it with the enduring power of the sea:

Ah, well-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

The reference to the Albatross here is a nod to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," in which the mariner is punished for shooting an albatross. By ending the poem with this allusion, Carroll suggests that our actions have consequences, and that the sea– like nature more broadly– is indifferent to human concerns.

Themes and Motifs

One of the key themes of "Sea" is the relationship between humans and nature. The poem presents the sea as a powerful and awe-inspiring force, one that can be both beautiful and dangerous. The speaker seems to feel a sense of reverence and wonder when confronted with the sea, but also acknowledges its potential to harm.

At the same time, the poem also highlights the transience of human life. The final stanza suggests that the speaker has faced some sort of punishment or hardship, perhaps as a result of their interactions with the sea. The reference to the Albatross reinforces the idea that our actions have consequences, and that nature can be unforgiving.

Another important motif in the poem is that of movement and change. The sea is constantly shifting and flowing, and the speaker seems to be caught up in this perpetual motion. The repetition of "wand'ring, wand'ring" reinforces this sense of aimlessness, as if the speaker is content to simply drift along with the tide.

Finally, the poem also explores the idea of perception and interpretation. The sea is described in a variety of ways– as a "mighty maze," a "treacherous friend," and a "laughing" force of nature. Each of these descriptions reflects a different aspect of the sea, and suggests that our understanding of nature is always partial and incomplete.


One of the most striking aspects of "Sea" is its use of symbolism. The sea itself can be seen as a symbol of the natural world, with all its power and unpredictability. It can also be seen as a symbol of the unconscious mind, with its endless depths and hidden currents.

The moon, which is mentioned several times throughout the poem, can also be seen as a symbol. In many cultures, the moon is associated with femininity, intuition, and mystery. Its presence in the poem adds to the sense of magic and wonder that pervades the scene.

The Albatross, as we've already mentioned, is a clear symbol of guilt and punishment. Its appearance in the final stanza suggests that the speaker has suffered some sort of retribution for their actions.


So what can we take away from "Sea"? At its core, the poem seems to be a meditation on the beauty and power of nature, and our place within it. The sea is both wondrous and dangerous, and the speaker seems to feel both awe and respect for it.

At the same time, the poem also suggests that our interactions with nature have consequences. The mention of the Albatross in the final stanza reinforces this idea, and suggests that we are not separate from the natural world, but rather part of it.

Overall, "Sea" is a beautiful and evocative poem that captures the essence of the sea in all its majesty and power. Through vivid imagery and rich language, Carroll invites us to contemplate our relationship with nature, and to reflect on our place within the broader world. It's a poem that rewards multiple readings, and one that continues to captivate readers more than a century after it was first published.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Sea: A Masterpiece by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, is a renowned English writer, mathematician, and logician. He is best known for his children's books, including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. However, Carroll was also a prolific poet, and one of his most famous works is "Poetry Sea."

"Poetry Sea" is a delightful poem that captures the essence of poetry and its power to transport us to different worlds. The poem is a celebration of the beauty and wonder of poetry, and it is a testament to Carroll's skill as a poet.

The poem begins with the lines, "A sea of poetry! But for me / It has a far more wondrous charm." Carroll immediately sets the tone for the poem, inviting the reader to join him on a journey through the world of poetry. He describes the sea of poetry as "a wondrous charm," suggesting that it is a magical place that is full of surprises and delights.

Carroll then goes on to describe the different types of poetry that can be found in the sea of poetry. He mentions "ballads, sonnets, epics grand," and "odes, lyrics, epigrams." Each of these types of poetry has its own unique style and structure, and Carroll suggests that they are all equally important and valuable.

The poem then takes a more personal turn, as Carroll describes his own relationship with poetry. He says, "And every wave that laps the shore / Brings treasures to my eager hand." Here, Carroll is suggesting that poetry is like a treasure that he is constantly discovering. He is always on the lookout for new poems and new ideas, and he is eager to explore the depths of the poetry sea.

Carroll then goes on to describe the different emotions that poetry can evoke. He says, "Sometimes a wave of joyous mirth, / Sometimes a melancholy strain." Here, Carroll is suggesting that poetry can be both uplifting and sad, and that it has the power to evoke a wide range of emotions.

The poem then takes a more philosophical turn, as Carroll reflects on the nature of poetry. He says, "And yet I know, whate'er befall, / The sea of poetry still will roll." Here, Carroll is suggesting that poetry is a constant in our lives, and that it will always be there for us, no matter what happens.

Carroll then concludes the poem with the lines, "And though I ne'er may plumb its deeps, / Yet still I love the Poetry Sea." Here, Carroll is suggesting that there is always more to discover in the world of poetry, and that he will never tire of exploring its depths.

Overall, "Poetry Sea" is a beautiful and inspiring poem that celebrates the power of poetry. Carroll's use of language is masterful, and he is able to convey the beauty and wonder of poetry in a way that is both accessible and profound. The poem is a testament to Carroll's skill as a poet, and it is a true masterpiece of English literature.

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