La Mer by Oscar Wilde
“La Mer” is a poem by Oscar Wilde, included in his poetry collection Poems. In this piece, Wilde skillfully captures the awe-inspiring yet intimidating essence of the sea. The poem is characterized by its vivid imagery and evocative descriptions, painting a vivid picture of a maritime scene. “La Mer” offers a profound reflection on the power and mystery of the sea, contrasting human vulnerability and technological might against nature’s grandeur. Readers interested in exploring more poetic works can check out Wilde’s Poems at PageVio.
1. The Poem
A white mist drifts across the shrouds,
A wild moon in this wintry sky
Gleams like an angry lion’s eye
Out of a mane of tawny clouds.
The muffled steersman at the wheel
Is but a shadow in the gloom;—
And in the throbbing engine-room
Leap the long rods of polished steel.
The shattered storm has left its trace
Upon this huge and heaving dome,
For the thin threads of yellow foam
Float on the waves like ravelled lace.
Size: 8″ x 12″ (2:3 ratio)
Copyright information: For personal use only
Note: Actual poster background color is white. For the sample poster, the background is made gray for illustration purpose.
2. La Mer Analysis
“La Mer” vividly depicts a scene at sea, combining elements of nature and machinery to create a powerful and somewhat eerie atmosphere.
The poem begins with a description of a white mist drifting across the shrouds of a ship, setting a scene that is both mysterious and ghostly. The imagery of a wild moon compared to an “angry lion’s eye” peeking through tawny clouds further adds to the wild and untamed nature of the setting, suggesting a sense of danger or foreboding.
The second stanza shifts focus to the human element aboard the ship. The steersman is described as a mere shadow, emphasizing the overwhelming presence of the natural elements and the relative insignificance or powerlessness of man in such a setting. The “throbbing engine-room” and the “long rods of polished steel” that leap within it introduce a mechanical, almost industrial aspect to the scene, contrasting the natural and human-made elements.
The final stanza reflects on the aftermath of a storm. The “shattered storm has left its trace” on the “huge and heaving dome” of the sea, indicating the immense power of natural forces. The “thin threads of yellow foam” floating on the waves are likened to “ravelled lace,” a delicate and intricate image that contrasts with the earlier violence of the storm. This metaphor adds a touch of beauty and calm after the turmoil, suggesting a return to tranquility.
The poem creates a vivid maritime scene that captures the beauty, power, and unpredictability of the sea. It juxtaposes the forces of nature with human endeavors and technology, highlighting the frailty and transience of human efforts against the vast and enduring power of the natural world. The imagery is rich and evocative, painting a picture that is both awe-inspiring and somewhat ominous.
We believe Oscar Wilde’s “La Mer” has enchanted you with its vivid depiction of a misty sea, a wild moon, and the rhythmic dance of a ship on a heaving ocean. Experience more poetic brilliance in our curated selection of Oscar Wilde’s poems, where each verse paints a captivating picture.