One way to interpret the “combers” is as waves that kill men at God’s will; if the combers are in fact men doing God’s will, however, it would imply that God has made mankind violent and that they are unable to resist those impulses. Sea-monsters, upward angel, downward fish: The final section of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’ begins with a description of a cenotaph or an empty tomb. The sailor is able to find peace in this place as well. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket May 9, 2013 admin Below, a recording of Robert Lowell reading his classic poem, The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket, first published in 1946. The speaker describes the corpse in a way that makes him appear to still be alive; for instance, “he grappled at the net.” The language moves into slightly more abstract territory toward the end of the stanza, where Lowell says, “…the heel-headed dogfish barks its nose/On Ahab’s void and forehead; and the name/Is blocked in yellow chalk.” Ahab is a reference to the tyrannical captain in Moby-Dick, who ends up dying in his quest to capture a singular and terrifying white whale. Please log in again. Leave only the death-rattle of the crabs. Even the ocean does its best to die, withdrawing into itself. The whale, too, seems to be on its way out; it is injured, bleeding heavily. Please support this website by adding us to your whitelist in your ad blocker. The final, seventh section of the poem begins in the graveyard again, where the weather is stormy. "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket" is one of the noisiest poems in the English language. The fourth section is the first to appear in two stanzas. This is very obviously not the case. “This is the end of running on the waves;/We are poured out like water,” the speaker says. How much has Poem Analysis donated to charity? A reader should recall at this point the epigraph which suggested that human beings have control over everything on earth. 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? Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. Subscribe to our mailing list to get the latest and greatest poetry updates. But because the “master” is still lashed to the mast, Lowell changes the story to match that of his cousin and the Quaker sailors. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket study guide contains a biography of Robert Lowell, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket, poem by Robert Lowell, published in 1946 in the collection Lord Weary’s Castle.This frequently anthologized elegy for a cousin who died at sea during World War II echoes both Herman Melville and Henry David Thoreau in its exploration of innocence, corruption, and redemption. 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. The exclamation, “Oh,” is often used at the beginning of the phrase. At the same time, the poem reads almost like biblical verses due to its density, but where those verses can be broken down and more easily digested, some lines in this poem remain slightly beyond sense no matter how closely the reader examines them. The poet speaks again about the human ability to control the sea and the god Poseidon. The seeking is similar to the way that the crew of Ahab’s continues to seek out the whale. They are being led, herded as if animals to make a pilgrimage to the shrine. Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. He finds her face expressionless. It is something that can only be discovered in Heaven. Bobbing by Ahab’s whaleboats in the East. The speaker has taken the reader away from the ocean into a pier. The poem seems careful but unreliable, its form ready to give way at any moment—like the unstable sea itself. For example, the transition between lines one and two of part two. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket study guide contains a biography of Robert Lowell, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. She is privy to a secret of God– “what God knows“. Though it may be considered as a pastoral elegy, it has again multidimensional qualities or multiple angles, which are characteristics of Lowell ’s poems. The speaker also comes back to talking about Moby Dick. The first line of the poem is written in iambic pentameter, then the second line breaks it, suitably doing so while describing the breaking of the waves. And blue-lung’d combers lumbered to the kill. The poem is mostly written in a combination of pentameter and trimeter and divided into seven sections. Thank you for subscribing. The poet describes a “death rattle“, the noise that a living thing makes right before it dies. But see: The setting changes in the second to the last section of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’. It should be considered as a symbol for a specific end, rather than a larger into the water itself. “Sailor, you were glad/And whistled Sion by that stream,” the speaker says. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket. Waking Early Sunday Morning by Robert Lowell. Sits near the altar. He describes an “old Quaker graveyard” drenched in water from the ocean, where the dead bodies cry out in sympathy for whale wounded in the hunt. The conditions are quite dangerous at the moment that the poem begins. Please continue to help us support the fight against dementia. The fairly long and complicated poem explores themes of human existence, religion, and natural elements. Throughout the seven sections of the poem, the poet depicts the power of the ocean and humanity’s inability to exert any kind of control over it. The verses conform to the rhyme scheme of aabbccdd, alternating end sounds from stanza to stanzas as Lowell saw fit. The speaker describes again how the seagulls are wailing and mourning this time to see rather than dead sailors. In the first few lines of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket,’ the speaker begins by describing the setting. In the final lines of the section, Lowell alludes to the fact that many sailors have died at sea. It was first published in 1946 in his collection Lord Weary's Castle. “ The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket ” was published in Robert Lowell ’s second collection of poetry, Lord Weary’s Castle. “The Lord,” whose will causes everything, remains beyond the consequences of his actions. Lowell describes the guns as losing their voices due to overuse. The water is a mix of seawater in freshwater, which is referred to as “brackish“. Is this line directed at the Sailor, or at the whale? One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket is an influential poem by Robert Lowell. There is a plea for forgiveness and salvation at the end of the poem that again depicts the world or something of a diety. 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. God, they think, is on their side because they were given time to praise him before the Atlantic rose up and took them. This is another example of personification. For example, the words “drowned” and “drag-net” in line four and “bloodless” and “botch” in line eight of the first stanza. In the next lines and speaker references the valley of judgment, in Hebrew, the Jehoshaphat. However, Lowell does not entirely lose his turbulent syntax, particularly with the line “Shiloah’s whirlpools gurgle and make glad/The castle of God.” Lowell shifts his gaze to the statue of the Virgin Mary, who is small compared to the structure. It was first published in 1946 in his collection Lord Weary's Castle. But in this scene, "no Orphean lute" can "pluck life back"; the sailor is gone forever, so the body goes overboard. It can be seen in the fifth section where lines seven through ten start with “The”. We spend much of the poem in an actual Quaker graveyard, in Nantucket, where the unmarked graves of sailors overlooks the water. The reader knows to expect rhymes, but can never be sure where they will fall. The third section is the second-longest of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’ at 24 lines. The winds are described as having “breath“ another likely reference to mythological figures and their control over the elements. The speaker reminds the readers that the sea remains sovereign by begging to it and referring to it as “O depths.”. The short phrase is a bit of a tongue twister and alludes to leviathans, large sea monsters from the Bible, and Odysseus from Homer’s Odyssey. In the water, the waves crash against a buoy. Heaves at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier, The terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death, In these home waters. He says that mankind was formed from the “Sea’s slime“. It appears vulnerable, much more so than it was previously. Heaves at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier, The terns … But this character also conquers Leviathans, the great sea monsters from the Bible. The opening quotation was from Genesis, but it's inexact. The image of being “poured out like water” suggests that existence is ephemeral. Prev Article. The “guns of the steel fleet“ repeatedly fire into the sky until they become “hoarse“. Lowell very cleverly structured the rhyme scheme in these lines in a fluid, alternating pattern. The next few lines inform the reader that the conditions of the sea are so poor that people have already died. Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Woods Hole, The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears. Copyright © 1999 - 2021 GradeSaver LLC. There are several examples of alliteration in these lines with words such as “blast“ and bilge” and “backwash,” as well as “royal“ and “rock“. Something went wrong. However, the use of the word “we” indicates that this moment is about humanity in general, not just sailors. Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. Study Guide for The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket. ... Get more Poetry Analysis like this in your inbox. At first, this section sounds like a tale or allegory, beginning by saying, “There once the penitents took off their shoes.” The words “There once” indicate that this is a moment in the distant past, as does the pastoral scenery. A list of phrases, items, or actions may be created through its implementation. All of these references create a dark and dreary image of the ocean that is hell-bent on causing the deaths of as many men as possible. This is seen through the life and death of Ahab’s crew, the explosion at sea of a special naval vessel in the first lines, as well as the various images of the waves and wind, scattered throughout the lines. The sailors from the Pequod, like Lowell’s cousin, die in the water, overturned by the whale they sought to capture. Other techniques that a careful reader can find in the poem include apostrophe and anaphora. The longest are twenty-six and twenty-four lines and are found in sections one and three. The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket by Robert Lowell. He is not getting a burial that many would deem appropriate but it was necessary. He thinks, that the sailor who is now resting at the bottom of the sea, can here this specific ship. The imagery and atmosphere of the poem continue to jump around from emotions that pity the whale, pity to sea, and the sailors. The Question and Answer section for The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket is a great This refers to Warren Winslow, Lowell’s cousin who drowned at sea. He says, “As before,/This face, for centuries a memory,/Non est species, neque decor,/Expressionless, expressed God,” referencing the destruction and reconstruction of this shrine but not blaming that for its emptiness. Lowell continues to paint an image of the sea describing the fishing boats, the “warships“, and the deity-like power of the sea. ‘Skunk Hour’ by Robert Lowell was written in 1957 and published in the volume, Life Studies, one of Lowell’s most important works.The poem is made up of eight sestets, or six line stanzas.These stanzas do not conform to a particular rhyme scheme, but there are moments of … Literary Terms The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket by Robert Lowell: Summary and Analysis 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. ... Get more Poetry Analysis like this in your inbox. This cemetery was established in 1730. Thank you for your support. Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came, Where the heel-headed dogfish barks its nose, On Ahab’s void and forehead; and the name. The last line is a simple statement, but in context it reads almost spitefully. “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. The ship that sank in Moby Dick and caused the death of many sailors. In this section the poem describes a peaceful scene for the first time, giving the readers a break from the stormy earlier scenes. In this section the poem finds its dramatic peak, and this may be why Lowell cuts away from the scene of the butchering to the scene in a section titled, “Our Lady of Walsingham.” This refers to a site of the same name in England where a noblewoman saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary, commanding her to have a structure built to imitate the home in which the Annunciation occurred. Robert Lowell. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. 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. Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves? Lowell makes use of a technique known as an apostrophe in the section as he addresses the dead sailor as “you“. They are from a time in which things were simpler and people did not understand the full power of the natural world. Those who choose to battle that which they cannot triumph over or doomed to failure, an allusion to the crew of the doomed ship in Moby Dick. This is a character from French folklore who is famous for murdering his wives. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analysing poetry on Poem Analysis. I A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket— The sea was still breaking violently and night Other times Lowell incorporates trochees (“Snatching at straws to sail…” “Wooden and childish…”), and the occasional anapest. The seawater is filled with an explosion of fish and guts in addition to the dead sailors. The speaker references another small coastal area of Nantucket has the sailors home and s-boats or sailboats that move through the water. It is interesting to consider the contrast between Warren’s death at sea and this statement that human beings supposedly have control over everything. Something went wrong. There are also references to other works of literature such as those by writers such as Henry Thoreau. The guts are spilling into the sea, as they did in Moby Dick. The speaker suggests that the waves in the wind are only tools of a higher power used to beat down and control human beings. This contradiction allows the speaker a layered perspective, so he is able to feel a personal loss while simultaneously looking at war's effects on the human race. Sailor, can you hear. ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’ was first published in Lowell’s 1946 collection Lord Weary’s Castle. GradeSaver "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket” Summary and Analysis". The sea, which is referred to as a kind of deity, is then related to Poseidon. The poem starts by describing a scene where a fleet pulls up to a man’s corpse, then push it back into the ocean. The speaker continues to spend time describing the various elements of a landscape including the wind. Of this old Quaker graveyard where the bones Cry out in the long night for the hurt beast Bobbing by Ahab's whaleboats in the East. They repeat their praise to God like prayers, but they drown regardless. For example, the numerous quotations that come in full or part from the Bible. What's your thoughts? 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. This is dedicated to Warren Winslow, a cousin of Lowell, who died at sea when his ship sank. Stretching beyond us to the castles in Spain. He too is in the void of the ocean being knocked out by fish. The corrupted waters are one of the most prominent symbols in this poem. For example, the first lines of the first section rhyme ABCBCA. Mary (Coffin) Starbuck (1645–1717) and her husband Nathaniel led the Quaker movement on Nantucket. This is the end of the whaleroad and the whale, Who spewed Nantucket bones on the thrashed swell, And stirred the troubled waters to whirlpools. Despite the fact that this secret cannot be discovered, people continue to come to the shrine seeking it out. These include passages from the Bible. A reader should also take note of the epigraph and dedication that come before the first stanza of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’. The speaker describes the dead man’s corpse, his blood, the skin, and the “batch of reds and whites“. 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. This darker imagery immediately informs the reader that we are back to where things were before, in the spooky cemetery. Sailors, who pitch this portent at the sea. Waves wallow in their wash, go out and out. The next stanza, though holding onto more precise, less verbose style, looks closely at the face of the statue of the Virgin at the altar and finds it empty. Lowell makes a new reference to the story of Bluebeard. The first image in “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket” is hellish but clear. What's your thoughts? Section IV of ‘The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket’ is twenty lines long. It is God’s will who lives and dies at sea. But, in the real world, this kind of deal is not possible. In the next stanza, the speaker focuses first on the ocean, then again on the dead Quaker sailors who died in the water. This complexity allows the stanza to deal with Lowell’s personal grief about his cousin’s senseless death at sea, while also looking at the senseless violence of the war—which is why his cousin was at sea in the first place. Line one hundred and twenty-two of the poem is in Latin. The last line of this section, “the world shall come to Walsingham” indicates how religion has evolved to include pilgrimages to sites like those. The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences. The latter was tied to a ship, to the mass, in order to save him from the calling sirens. These lines also refer to “Jonas Messias” and the story of Christ being stabbed in the side with a spear. Something was lost when they died; but the speaker does not explain what it is that has been lost beyond calling it a “secret.” The speaker sees and hears the Quakers praise God for saving them; this is belied by the clear fact that he has not saved them. It stretches all the way to Spain. The final lines allude to the great flood which was depicted in the Bible. There is also a statue of a lady described in the section. He does not describe them as being overly intelligent and seems to believe that it was foolish of them to embark on this quest. 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