Sea Poems by Keats and Wordsworth


The sea is frequently the central theme of many authors’ compositions. The poem “On the Sea” by John Keats (1800) illustrates the incredible power and subtlety of the waves, as well as their capacity to treat troubled eyes and torn ears. It demonstrates freedom and solace that can be found in nature. This composition will be compared with the poem “By the Sea” by William Wordsworth (1904), which also highlights the greatness of the sea. In this essay, the verses will be examined according to their imagery, vocabulary, and tone. Furthermore, the objectives of the mentioned language usages will be carefully analyzed, which will help make relevant conclusions.

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There are several similarities between the given pieces of art. First, both poems were written in the same period, which means that their language is similar. Indeed, authors used the common religious expression, for example: “with its mighty swell” in “On the Sea” (Keats, 1800, line 2) and “the mighty Being” in “By the Sea” (Wordsworth, 1904, line 6). Second, both authors were poets of Romanticism; hence, the compositions were written in the same artistic direction. This poetry movement generally applies the descriptions of natural phenomena to reproduce and propagate human feelings. Keats (1800) used this trend to show his disapproval of industry, while Wordsworth (1904) described his deep feelings by reflecting on the sea behavior. Third, the poems’ object is the sea, although the authors used it with different aims. Last but not least, the authors personified the poems’ central thing. John Keats (11, 1800) wrote that “ears are dinned with uproar rude” and depicted the powerful, loud, and tumultuous sea (line 11). Similarly, William Wordsworth (1904) demonstrated the sea as a living creature by telling “the mighty Being is awake” (line 6). The named points are the shared features of the two poems.

Despite the outlined similarities of the poems, they are different in numerous aspects. First and foremost, “On the Sea” was written in a violent and angry tone, while “By the Sea” has the opposite mood of calmness, freedom, and peace. The reasons for this tendency are the aims and messages of the authors. Keats had a position of being against the industrial revolution by calling people to eternal nature. In contrast, Wordsworth had nothing to fight against but wanted to show the sea’s divineness. Next, there are some discrepancies in the imagery of the poems. Keats used alliteration “twice two thousand” to express the number of caverns in the mighty sea (Keats, 1800, line 3). Moreover, the metaphor referring to a religious background was used for describing strong winds: “the winds of heaven” (Keats, 1800, line 8). Alternatively, to illustrate the conscious tranquility of the calm sea, Wordsworth (2, 1904) wrote a simile “quiet as a nun” (line 2). In such a way, the poems differ in their meanings, tones, and messages.


To conclude, the two poems about the sea are undoubtedly compositions worth attention too. Both authors used their literary skills to deliver their messages. Although they handled similar tools to achieve their aims, their poems’ tones and themes are different. These examples demonstrate that writings are contrasting, despite all the similarities they have. The first poem discussed above was written in a pessimistic and angry tone, while the second conversely implied calmness and positivity. Keats showed the nature of the sea accordingly, while Wordsworth implemented more subtle depictions.


Keats, J. (1800). On the Sea. In J. R. Lowell (Ed.), The poetical works of John Keats (p. 332). R. Worthington

Wordsworth, W. (1904). By the Sea. In A. J. George (Ed.), Wordsworth (p. 705). Houghton Mifflin Company.

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