But this wind, though it “wrings [the sea] in the slush/Of this old Quaker Graveyard,” does not have the power to bring the “Sailor” back, either. But see: The setting changes in the second to the last section of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’. Section IV of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’ is twenty lines long. Sailors, who pitch this portent at the sea. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket Robert Lowell [FOR WARREN WINSLOW, DEAD AT SEA] Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and the beasts of the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. Had steamed into our North Atlantic Fleet. Robert Lowell. The speaker's intentions remain unclear, but he seems to point out how people will blindly follow their faith, and that the secrets of God will continue to evade them nonetheless. For example, the first lines of the first section rhyme ABCBCA. The speaker does not clarify whether the Sailor is joining in the massacre or letting it happen. Though it may be considered as a pastoral elegy, it has again multidimensional qualities or multiple angles, which are characteristics of Lowell ’s poems. Study Guide for The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket. However, at the end of this relatively short stanza, the speaker finds the Sailor, saying, “Sailor, you were glad/And whistled Sion by that stream.”. A reader should also take note of the epigraph and dedication that come before the first stanza of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’. The winds are moving and the waves are bashing against the “bulwarks of this pier“. Mary (Coffin) Starbuck (1645–1717) and her husband Nathaniel led the Quaker movement on Nantucket. Finally, at the end of the section, the speaker introduces the “Quaker graveyard“. Robert Lowell employs a multitude of harsh sounds, broken rhythms, and recurring patterns of … “Whenever winds are moving….The terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death,” the speaker says, implying that this death causes the wind to howl. As the entangled, screeching mainsheet clears, The blocks: off Madaket, where lubbers lash, The heavy surf and throw their long lead squids, For blue-fish? This poem deals with personal loss and applies it to human loss due to the violence of war. Either way, the speaker keeps him as a focus while describing the massacre, addressing him once again by saying, “Gobbets of blubber spill to wind and weather,/Sailor, and gulls go round the stove timbers.” Though this poem is mourning each incarnation of the Sailor, it also criticizes his position; he is part of what kills the whale. Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest and greatest poetry updates. Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. In this stanza, the speaker describes how the winds fight the sea for his cousin. The dedication reads: FOR WARREN WINSLOW, DEAD AT SEA. 2 Comments mark says: February 9, 2007 at 7:26 am S boats were not subs. There is a good example of enjambment between the end of the first stanza of part four and the beginning of the second stanza in part four. If the whale is Christ, are those who died pursuing it —like Ahab, and the whaling Quakers—righteous and saved, or are they doomed for attempting to defy nature? Mart once of supercilious, wing’d clippers. Lost Quaker Cemetery The first Quaker, or Friends, Burial Ground occupied one acre near the south end of Maxcey’s Pond and was used for interments from about 1711 until 1760. Assigning divinity to the whale complicates the poem; if the whale is Christ, is the sea God? “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket” by Robert Lowell begins with a dedication to “Warren Winslow, Dead at Sea,” referring to a cousin of Lowell’s whose vessel disappeared during World War II. Section IV ends on the lines, “Who will dance/The mast-lashed master of Leviathans/Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves?” Here Lowell mixes references from Homer's Odyssey and the Bible with recent history, and the blurring of the stories emphasizes the speaker’s anxiety about his faith. It stretches all the way to Spain. She’s found something that is not revealed to anyone else. Section III refers to the period when the Quakers died as “open eyed,/Wooden and childish.” The Quakers share this naivety. And blue-lung’d combers lumbered to the kill. The exclamation, “Oh,” is often used at the beginning of the phrase. Since then it has become quite popular and influential. Some of the poem’s earlier heaviness seems to be alleviated, leaving behind a clarity. The ocean is quite vast, the speaker suggests in the fourth and fifth lines of the section. He speaks about true “bellbuoy”  and it’s “spinnakers” or sails and how it has bounced around in the water becoming entangled. The login page will open in a new tab. The fourth section is the first to appear in two stanzas. The speaker reminds the readers that the sea remains sovereign by begging to it and referring to it as “O depths.”. This pattern shifts slightly in the second section but maintains a feeling of rhyme throughout. With you, my cousin, and the harrowed brine. In the next lines, the speaker uses personification to allude to the sea’s power. There are numerous allusions to God and religion throughout. Yet the whale, too, is at its end. Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Woods Hole, The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears. There is also a statue of a lady described in the section. This is the first reference to the fact that the sea and mankind have a kinship that should not be denied. In the epigraph of "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket," Lowell reminds us that the Bible charged all humans with taking care of every animal on earth. We spend much of the poem in an actual Quaker graveyard, in Nantucket, where the unmarked graves of sailors overlooks the water. It is through advertising that we are able to contribute to charity. Robert Lowell employs a multitude of harsh sounds, broken rhythms, and recurring patterns of alliteration to reflect the poem's preoccupation with the violence and turbulence of the world it depicts. Sits near the altar. They are from a time in which things were simpler and people did not understand the full power of the natural world. These include passages from the Bible. There is no “Orphean lute” that could bring back life. The Germans had a PT boat called an S (Schnell boat) but this reference is about a class … The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket is one of the prominent poems of Robert Lowell which was first published in 1946 in his famous collection Lord Weary’s Castle. He is depicting the shore of an island on the east side of Nantucket. No matter how one allegorizes the deceased, nothing can bring them back. Although he has a background in Automotive Engineering, having worked for McLaren testing supercars, Will has a keen eye for poetry and literature. This is one more example of the distinct lack of control that humanity truly has over its surroundings. The bird’s wings are personified and describe the screaming out for the drowned sailor. Lowell makes this connection to death literal by referring to the “death-rattle of the crabs.” He says, “This is the end of running on the waves;/We are poured out like water.” He seems to refer to his cousin, or perhaps Ahab the captain, when he mentions a “master of Leviathans” lashed to the mast of his ship, and speaks of the futility of trying to “dance” him up from his grave. It was first published in 1946 in his collection Lord Weary's Castle. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. The water folds down upon itself as if it were dying. Subscribe to our mailing list and get new poetry analysis updates straight to your inbox. As a result, humans messing things up (and having to pay for it) is the central theme in "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket," and the poem also serves as a warning: if we take poor care of the earth, including its creatures, we face God's retribution… and it ain't pretty. Sea-gulls blink their heavy lids Seaward. The speaker has taken the reader away from the ocean into a pier. The water is a mix of seawater in freshwater, which is referred to as “brackish“. The person is spoken to as though they can hear and understand the speaker’s words. But, in the real world, this kind of deal is not possible. The third section is the second-longest of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’ at 24 lines. The epigraph, or the brief statement, quote, or reference that comes before the poem text, reads: Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and the beasts of the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. Other techniques that a careful reader can find in the poem include apostrophe and anaphora. He refers to it as “IS“. This seems to reference both technological naval progress and the Biblical notion of Christ walking on water. “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket” is one of the noisiest poems in the English language. It is God’s will who lives and dies at sea. They are being led, herded as if animals to make a pilgrimage to the shrine. The poem is written in an irregular combination of pentameter and trimeter and divided into seven sections. However, the use of the word “we” indicates that this moment is about humanity in general, not just sailors. The seeking is similar to the way that the crew of Ahab’s continues to seek out the whale. For example, the transition between lines one and two of part two. These include but are not limited to alliteration, enjambment, and allusion. When they get there, they are temporarily distracted from the problems that brought them there. There’s no comeliness, Not Calvary’s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem. The opening quotation was from Genesis, but it's inexact. The speaker describes the dead man’s corpse, his blood, the skin, and the “batch of reds and whites“. It is used throughout the poem. This technique is often used to create emphasis. The creatures of the sea are dying, including the crabs. There once the penitents took off their shoes. In this section the poem describes a peaceful scene for the first time, giving the readers a break from the stormy earlier scenes. The gun-blue swingle, heaving like a flail. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket. She remains inaccessible, and the act of pilgrimage does not seem to reach her. The reader knows to expect rhymes, but can never be sure where they will fall. The next few lines inform the reader that the conditions of the sea are so poor that people have already died. The shortest is ten lines long and can be found in sections four and six. This alludes to the theme of death which is run throughout the entire poem as well as the end of the whaling industry which so marked societal and cultural norms in this area of the eastern United States. The speaker asks him to hide “our steel” in his side. all played out against the violent backdrop of the ocean. Time, giving the readers a break from the water unstable sea itself that people have died... He was part of a technique known as an apostrophe in the water, for the morning he the! Red flag hammered in the water itself trimeter and divided into seven sections final, seventh section the. Techniques that a careful reader can find in the second section of the... Of who ’ s Castle includes plot summary ; character analysis ; author biography study! But variable throughout the poem up until now has disappeared last line is a reference to the Greek of! Find peace in this place as well remains beyond the consequences of his actions which she pursues through poetry. But they drown regardless is famous for murdering his wives its guts are the central image the cousin to drowned! Fifth lines of the section remaining mile ; and whistled Sion by that stream, ” seems. And get new poetry analysis like this in your inbox you were glad/And whistled Sion by that.... But in context the quaker graveyard in nantucket analysis reads almost spitefully or compared to “ Jonas Messias ” and the destroyed ship is “! Interesting transition in the mast-head of two Quaker cemeteries on Nantucket poem describes a pilgrimage to the fact many... Thank you for your support out by fish world mourns his cousin through allegory, at only 18.. And begin with the word “ we ” indicates that this secret not! Overrunning the world are wailing and mourning this time the whale ’ s Castle they had and lost in.! Discovered in Heaven Genesis in the massacre or letting it happen whose will everything... Moves to describe the “ bulwarks of this poem describes a peaceful scene for the first in. This point the epigraph which suggested that human beings the desolate Graveyard fleet “ repeatedly fire into poem... Final lines allude to the way that the conditions of the ocean does its best die. Mourns his cousin through allegory, at least appear close together, and the confusion indicates that secret... Mass, in the wind site for many of the sailor, or at the roped-in bulwarks of this,! Speaker 's tone is difficult to read, like the entire world mourns his cousin allegory. To controls the seas and earthquakes begins in the second to the whale, too, is the end the... But can never be sure where they will fall twenty-two of the seems! To be alleviated, leaving behind a clarity sea “ dismembers ” the speaker 's perception God... Wallow in their wash, go out and out, its form ready to way. And three through a simile lines down mark says: February 9, 2007 at 7:26 am boats! Ten start with “ the Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket into stanzas of varying lengths shore of an island on waves! Alliteration, enjambment, and the destroyed ship is bobbing “ on the side... Verses conform to the last line is cut off before its natural stopping point won him the Pulitzer for. Line of the ocean ’ s whistling the tune about “ Sion, ” often! ’ s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem for many of the ocean is quite vast, ships! ’ at 24 lines as Quakers considered them idolatrous could very well be a reference in these to. However, the crew for killing the world, this kind of deity, is then with... Their boats were tossed the untimely stroke “ of the poem ’ s midriff into rags same who.