Full fathom five thy father lies

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Day Three of National Poetry Month–why not Shakespeare? There’s something about the last stanza of this song from The Tempest that sticks with me. I don’t know why. Can’t imagine the first time I heard it. In my head, this is the only part of Ariel’s song.

tempestBut then again, of course I know why it sticks in my head. It’s the beauty of those first six words-“Full fathom five thy father lies.” The alliteration of all the ‘f’ sounds. The internal rhyme of ‘five’ and ‘thy’ and ‘lies.’ The rolling sound of the iambic pentameter. All that, plus the imagery. Your father is gone, dead, buried deeper than deep beneath the ocean. His bones turned to coral and his eyes turned to pearl. It’s creepy and beautiful and sad.

 

from The Tempest

Ariel’s Song

Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Curtsied when you have, and kiss’d
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.
Hark, hark!
Bow-wow.
The watch-dogs bark.
Bow-wow.
Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them—Ding-dong, bell.

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