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The Shell by James Stephens

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Josie Harrison

on 17 March 2016

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Transcript of The Shell by James Stephens

The Shell by James Stephens


designed by Péter Puklus for Prezi
James Stephens
Irish writer

1880-1950

First poetry book published 1909
First novel published 1911

Active in Irish Nationalist movement

Moved to London in 1940

Made radio broadcasts until his death in 1950
Predictions
A beach or seashell

Listening to seashell

emotional/physical shell

Turtles

Breaking out of something
Paraphrase
A person gets entranced by the sounds of the ocean in a seashell and gets "lost at sea". The calm waves soon turn violent and he/she snaps back into reality.
Rhyme
The rhyme flow is symbolic of waves/water

"And in the hush of waters was the sound/Of pebbles, rolling round;/Forever rolling, with a hollow sound:".

There is irony in how the rhyme scheme shows more structure in the most chaotic sections of the poem.

Shifts in rhyme is symbolic of a change in tone and the turning of tides.

Imagery
There is a strong use of imagery in "the Shell"

"There was no day;/Nor ever came a night/Setting the stars alight" (Stephens 25-27). These lines produce the image of an ocean without light, dark, or a perception of time.

"And bubbling sea weeds, as the waters go,/Swish to and fro/Their long, cold tentacles of slimy gray:" (Stephens 19-21). This adds a personality to the seaweed while bringing depth to the ocean by adding components of it.
A Presentation by Elizabeth and Josie
The Shell
by James Stephens

I
A
And then I pressed the shell
B
Close to my ear,
A

And listened well.

A
And straightaway like a bell,
B
Came low and clear
C
The slow, sad, murmur of distant seas

C
Whipped by an icy breeze
D
Upon a shore
E
Wind-swept and desolate.

D
It was a sunless strand that never bore
F
The footprint of a man.
G
Nor felt the weight

F
Since time began
H
Of any human quality or stir,
H
Save what the dreary winds and waves incur.


Attitude
The first tone expressed by the narrator in the poem was calm, with words and phrases like, "Slow ,sad, murmur"(Stephens 6) and "Wind swept and desolate" (Stephens 9).

The following tone is fear and chaos, shown using terms such as "Was the twilight only, and the frightened croon,/Smitten to whimpers, of the dreary wind" (Stephens 26-27).

Lastly, the narrator expresses relief through phrases like "And then I loosed my ear-Oh, it was sweet/ To hear a cart go jolting down the street" (Stephens 29-30).
Shifts
There are two different shifts in "The Shell" expressed through three different tones. The tone shifts are highlighted by the two parts, the first expressing calm and loneliness, the second portraying chaos and relief. Also, part one is set above water as shown in line 8: "upon a shore" (Stephens). Part two takes place under water as shown in line 16 "And in the hush of waters was the sound" (Stephens), this displays a setting under water and reflects a loss of control (or drowning).
Title
The title "The Shell" describes the main part of the poem, most importantly the setting in which the poem takes place,"And then I pressed the shell/Close to my ear,/And listened well" (Stephens 1-3)
Theme
Things don't always end as well as they began

This theme is prominent in the shifts of tone during the poem such a calm beginning and chaotic end.

Wording like "And straightaway like a bell,/came low and clear" (Stephens 4-5) during the calm beginning shifts to "Was twilight only, and the frightened croon,/Smitten to whimpers , of the dreary wind", by the end.
Theme
We imagine our own isolation

This is proved by subject actively listening to the shell, "And then I pressed the shell/Close to my ear, And listened well" (Stephens 1-3).

They also had the power to quit listening: " And then I loosed my ear-Oh it was sweet" (Stephens 29-30).

II
I
And in the hush of waters was the sound
I
Of pebbles, rolling round;
I
Forever rolling , with a hollow sound:

J
And bubbling sea weeds, as the waters go,
J
Swish to and fro
K
Their long, cold tentacles of slimy gray:

K
There was no day;
L
Nor ever came a night
L
Setting the stars alight

M
To wonder at the moon:
M
Was twilight only, and the frightened croon,
N
Smitten to whimpers, of the dreary wind

O
And waves that journeyed blind...
P
And then I loosed my ear-Oh it was sweet
P
To hear a cart go jolting down the street.

Works Cited
The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. "James Stephens."
Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Encyclopedia Britannica. Web.10 Mar. 2016
Full transcript