In this poem Longfellow describes the sound of the sea as the waves
lap against the shore and the tide rises. He compares the rush of the
tide to rushes of inspiration people experience sometimes. He also
suggests that those inspirations might be a way of divine "foreshadowing
and foreseeing" as opposed to the regularity with which the tide rises.
Just like the tide of the sea, the tide of the soul is beyond our control
The obvious imagery in this poem describes the sea and the waves of the tide. However,
if you read this poem carefully out loud, not only do the actual words describe
the sea and the waves, but the rhythm of the poem go along with this imagery
Notice also that the word "cataract" is not meant in the sense of the eye disorder
but means high or very large waterfall.
about the poet:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an accomplished American poet. He wrote many well-known
pieces in his lifetime, including "Song of hiawatha," "Evangeline," and "Paul Revere's Ride."
He was a teacher at Harvard, leaving his mark on New England through the Longfellow House, formerly
known as the Craigie House before it was given to him and his wife as a wedding present.
Longfellow was known for writing poetry that was easy to read with a good sense of rhythm.
Precedents for Courbet's radically reductive seascapes are found in
seventeenth-century Dutch painting and in English watercolors of the
late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries that show a similar
concern with water, light, and atmosphere. This seascape was executed
in Étratet on the Normandy coast in 1869.
Courbet painted this beautiful seascape in Étratet. This is a
little village on the Normandy coast in France, where Courbet spent the summer of
"Calm Sea" is one of the paintings in Gustave Courbet's series of
seascapes. These seascapes were prepared for the Salon of 1870, which
is an official art exhibition sponsored by the French government. The Salon
was first held when Louis XIV held an exhibit for the Académie Royale
de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1667. Rather than a sporadic event, it eventually
became an annual happening in the art world of that time period. The Salon
was held in Salon d'Apollon of the Louvre Palace in Paris (hence the name).
The series of seascapes impressed the art world since it didn't hold to the current
trends of the Romantic period (which emphasized strict linear shapes). The seascapes
emphasized color and light to produce more sensuous and colorful representation.
The French Gustave Courbet rebelled against the Romantic style of painting, and led the realist movement. Since
the Romantic period tried
to idealize of embellish reality, he tried to represent it accurately. His works
were very influential in the movements that came after him.
Courbet's reputation grew until his death, even though he received much criticism for his famous
"Artist's Studio" of 1855. He held strong political beliefs and was often judged on these.
In the 1860's his works became more subtle and colorful.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This is a great page for biographical information on Longfellow.
Early American Ficition
Another excellent page with biographical information, and including full text of some of
Longfellow's shorter poems. (University of Virginia)
Everypoet.com has full-text poetry online. This links takes you directly to Longfellow's publications.
Selected Poetry of Longfellow
Has some full-text of poetry and some biographical information. (University of Toronto)
A site with a short biography and images of selected works.
Mark Harden's Artchive - "Gustave Courbet"
More extensive biographical information, and many images of Courbet's work.
Courbet on the Internet
Entry in the Artcyclopedia about Courbet, with an extensive list of links.
Sound of the sea a clue to climate
Yes, it's true: scientists are listening to the sound of the sea to determine
what effect global warming is having. Nice Science Daily article.
Sound of the sea
Bed and breakfast accommodation, Wilderness, Garden Route, South Africa.
"I Prefer the Sound of the Sea "
Senses of cinema movie review of the movie "I Prefer the Sound of the Sea."
Sound to Sea
Environmental education program, called Sound to Sea.