Alexandra Del Favero-Campbell
23 June 2010
"Winter Ocean" By John Updike, pg. 200:
This poem presents the nature of the ocean through the use of detailed, creative imagery and the use of many poetic devices that are dependent upon the sound that different words make. In addition, instead of just describing the ocean, Updike gives his readers an in-depth understanding of the winter ocean's nature, so that through his words, the readers can see and hear the ocean as if it were right in front of them. The poet's intent is fulfilled by his use of imagery and creative use of literary devices.
In fact, his use of literary devices helps create rhythm throughout the poem. Updike uses devices such as, alliteration, assonance, consonance, euphony, and cacophony to help create rhythm in the poem. Alliteration is seen at the very beginning of the poem, which starts, "Many-maned" (Line 1). Another example of how John Updike utilizes his words to create rhythmic qualities is how consonance is used in every line of the poem with the use of the words, "thumper," "maker," "mocker," and "pusher" (Lines 1-4). When these devices are put together, they help mimic the sounds that the ocean makes and mimic the contradictory nature of the ocean. The poem flows pleasantly at times like a peaceful ocean, and at other times, the poem has no flow like cacophonous, disconcerting ocean. Moreover, Updike's use of alliteration speeds up the pace of the poem while assonance slows the pace of the poem, which also mirrors the way the ocean's motion can vary between slow and fast.
Along with the rhythm of the poem, Updike inserted many memorable images throughout the poem to help the reader visualize the winter ocean. For example, one memorable image in the poem is how Updike describes the ocean as "many-maned," which could refer to the way that the ocean's surf resembles the manes of horses (Line 1). Another memorable image that describes the ocean's vast size is "tub of male whales" (Lines 1-2). When all of these succinct images are put together, the reader can envision the winter ocean and its nature very clearly.
Furthermore, the poem is playful and easy to enjoy. It's very strong with plentiful vivid imagery and poetic devices that give the poem a very unique rhythm. However, the poem's tone of humor sometimes distracts the reader when trying to imagine the imagery that Updike utilizes. For example, "tub of whales," although it projects a great image, its humor can be a little distracting from the previous, majestic description of the ocean being "many-maned" (Lines 1-2). Then again, the poet uses that distraction to help develop the nature of the ocean through rhythm. Thus, John Updike utilizes the poem's weakness as a strength to successfully fulfill his...