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The City In The Sea Analysis



Author: Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe Type: Poetry Views: 2761

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Lo! Death has reared himself a throne

In a strange city lying alone

Far down within the dim West,

Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best

Have gone to their eternal rest.

There shrines and palaces and towers

(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)

Resemble nothing that is ours.

Around, by lifting winds forgot,

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters he.



No rays from the holy heaven come down

On the long night-time of that town;

But light from out the lurid sea

Streams up the turrets silently-

Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-

Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-

Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-

Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers

Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-

Up many and many a marvellous shrine

Whose wreathed friezes intertwine

The viol, the violet, and the vine.

Resignedly beneath the sky

The melancholy waters lie.

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seem pendulous in air,

While from a proud tower in the town

Death looks gigantically down.



There open fanes and gaping graves

Yawn level with the luminous waves;

But not the riches there that lie

In each idol's diamond eye-

Not the gaily-jewelled dead

Tempt the waters from their bed;

For no ripples curl, alas!

Along that wilderness of glass-

No swellings tell that winds may be

Upon some far-off happier sea-

No heavings hint that winds have been

On seas less hideously serene.



But lo, a stir is in the air!

The wave- there is a movement there!

As if the towers had thrust aside,

In slightly sinking, the dull tide-

As if their tops had feebly given

A void within the filmy Heaven.

The waves have now a redder glow-

The hours are breathing faint and low-

And when, amid no earthly moans,

Down, down that town shall settle hence,

Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,

Shall do it reverence.








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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

this is one of my favorite poems. One of the first lines is " where the good and the bad are the worst and the best have gone to their eternal rest" saying that no matter how you were in life, we all go to the same place. Poe goes on to describe the riches of this city saying "But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye-Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;For no ripples curl, alas!" this, to me, means that no matter how much you had in your past live, money cannot buy virtue and a place in heaven. this poem as a whole is describing the immorality and greed of humanity, and in the end, none of the "gaily jeweled dead' will ever make a change, and they will be punished/rewarded accordingly.

| Posted on 2014-05-16 | by a guest


.: :.

this is one of my favorite poems. One of the first lines is " where the good and the bad are the worst and the best have gone to their eternal rest" saying that no matter how you were in life, we all go to the same place. Poe goes on to describe the riches of this city saying "But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye-Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;For no ripples curl, alas!" this, to me, means that no matter how much you had in your past live, money cannot buy virtue and a place in heaven. this poem as a whole is describing the immorality and greed of humanity, and in the end, none of the "gaily jeweled dead' will ever make a change, and they will be punished/rewarded accordingly.

| Posted on 2014-05-16 | by a guest


.: :.

My analysis of the poem is that is about death, and i don\'t like death goodbye

| Posted on 2013-05-08 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem is talking about death.. that death still towards us.. and in that city, death is on the throne and death rules.. and hell is coming.. at the first place i was thinking about the Atlantic city that is underwater., but no, souls are on ground.. and bla bla bla..

| Posted on 2011-10-19 | by a guest


.: :.

Just to clarify the assumptions of Atlantis, the poem is not talking about Atlantis. It is referring to the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which he refers to in other poems as \"the doomed city.\" According to the Bible, God sinks the cities because of their wickedness by what is believed to be an earthquake or a flood. The Dead Sea borders Jordan and Israel and is often referred to as the \"Sea of Lot\" (see Lot\'s involvement in Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen.) or the Buhr Lut in Arabic.
The interpretation from there is yours to make, but there\'s a little background on the city underwater in the poem. And no, I\'m not just assuming this at random, I\'m an English student taking an Individual Author\'s Class on Poe.

| Posted on 2011-08-31 | by a guest


.: :.

This,, may only be an analysis of the writing. No requests for explanation or general short comments allowed. Due to Spam Posts ,,are moderated before posted.
Me again :P

| Posted on 2011-03-17 | by a guest


.: :.

This, may only be an analysis of the writing. No requests for explanation or general short comments allowed. Due to Spam Posts are moderated before posted.

| Posted on 2011-02-15 | by a guest


.: :.

I think that although it seems like after Apocalypse, Its actually right before. Heaven is about to reign and save a world nearly drown in its own evil.

| Posted on 2011-02-01 | by a guest


.: :.

I just wanted to say that I admire this poem. That\'s all C:

| Posted on 2011-01-24 | by a guest


.: :.

In my opinion , I think this poem about loss the civilization . and this city rules or control by the evil and devil .
This city include tombs , death and hell . and the author use the Gothic fiction. . but author maybe he use metaphor and simile and compare between city in the sea and lady died or leave him ^^

| Posted on 2011-01-15 | by a guest


.: :.

in my opinion this about the world after the \"Latter fire\" goes out, or after Armageddon. Society and civilization a wreck and all is done and doomed.

| Posted on 2010-12-17 | by a guest


.: :.

I think its about the way the worlds going to end and that the devil going to rule the earth and the sea is tempting us and the sea is the devil

| Posted on 2010-12-07 | by a guest


.: :.

I\'m writing to anyone who thinks this is about his mourning of his wife, Virginia. this poem was published in 1831 and Poe did not marry Virginia until the year 1836
~ej from VA

| Posted on 2010-11-25 | by a guest


.: :.

If you know anything about Poe, why in the world would you think he would write about Atlantis? The city is man/humanity in despair with all his sins/fears/losses/sadness bubbling around him, drowning him. God would appear to have forsaken him, Hell is much closer, glowing redly beneath his feet. Riches can\'t save him now, there is no redemption at this point. Poe felt he was beyond redemption after Virginia died. If you see Atlantis here, it is only an allusion to a city much like himself.

| Posted on 2010-11-22 | by a guest


.: :.

Vayanse todos a la mierda,no sirven pa nada yankees estupidos! pudranse egocÚntricos del orto

| Posted on 2010-06-06 | by a guest


.: :.

I interpreted the poem more symbolicly than having it simply represent Atlantis. I thought that the city itself represents what humanity has lost because of our sin, and as holy rays from heaven above struggle to break through and, figurativly "save us," Death still rules over his city while sitting on his throne in the city.

| Posted on 2010-05-26 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe that this poem is astounding, just as other poems by Poe. I particularily loved this one though. It is about some sort of Hell undersea, possibly the end of the world. Things are falling apart, which could have been easy to get from his poems, because of his rough life. Very, very, rough life. I'm sort of obsesses with him, so I would know. Maybe this poem came from a past even that disturbed and saddened him. This possible scarred him forever. By the way, yes, I am twelve, I just have a high reading level for my age.

| Posted on 2010-04-22 | by a guest


.: :.

sigh... i just dont get why people dont like poetry.. it is so intreging and has many interpretations... perfict examples are the guy talking about pizza, put up with the atlantis theory.. i just love poetry and for all of you who criticize all of us, you just havent veen enlightened to the way of literature... woo hooo im 14 and giving people a lesson on people skills.. its kind of funny because im the last person to do that to.. well thnx for reading this little thing i wrote..

| Posted on 2010-02-10 | by a guest


.: :.

poe seems to be talking of the end of the world. an apocalyptical destruction. there seems to be no one alive and eveything seems to be in complete stillness. til the end when the world is submerged in the water and goes so far down that it is even below hell itself

| Posted on 2009-12-29 | by a guest


.: :.

i think the poem refers to what happens to anyone after death. Knowing the life event of Edgar Allen Poe I assume it isn't talking about people going to heaven but to hell and this ruler is much worse than the devil. Also the author uses many literary devices on his work which creates a very twisted un normal eerie atmosphere for the readers and effects them greatly.

| Posted on 2009-11-10 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe the poem is talking about the inevitability of death and subordination. "The good and the bad" have gone to their death, meaning all people die, regardless if they sin or not. In addition, cities are subordinate to nature. In this case, the city, which I believe is referring to the fabled lost city of Atlantis because it was known for temples, palaces and towers, sinks into the sea. Even hell is subordinate to death, as it "shall do it (death) reverence." Ultimately, everything and everyone is forgotten.

| Posted on 2009-11-05 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe this poem is in reality, about the degradation of human morality. Perhaps Death in Poe's meaning is the death of human virtues. The shrines, palaces, and towers represent what our old beliefs, and "trembles not" because we once believed. However, they "resemble nothing that is ours" because our virtues by then, mean nothing and are forgotten.
Maybe the "rays of the holy heaven" are our virtues trying to break through our immoral atmosphere, or in this case, the waters. The buldings he depicts in the second verse maybe represents the hard work and integrity we once had, and how beautiful we used to be, but now, it has all sunk under the sea.
In the third verse, "In each idol's diamond eye" suggests that we, the human race, brought this on ourselves. That we were responsible for the death of morality. "For no ripples curl, alas" may mean that no one has been willing to rise and begin once again a beautiful society in which humans follow virtues.
However, in the fourth verse, Poe writes that "a stir is in the air! The waves-there is a movement there!" suggesting that perhaps once more, humans have begun to feel a desire to work and to follow virtues and to believe in morality. Later, Hell, representing the old times when there were no virtues, is perhaps defeated by the new times, where they feel attached to a set of virtues. Hence, "Hell, rising from a thousand thrones, Shall do it reverence."
I really love this poem. It is so symbolic in so many ways. That's probably why I like poetry so much. Because it is so beautiful, but has so many underlying meanings to it. Anyway, I hope you like my interpretation of this poem!

| Posted on 2009-11-03 | by a guest


.: :.

um... i dont really get this all i get is that its about a city under the sea... yeah...

| Posted on 2009-10-09 | by a guest


.: :.

I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh C'thulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."

| Posted on 2009-07-28 | by a guest


.: :.

wow that was the biggest waste of my time reading over all of those nonsense and drama laced comments. . .get a life ppl

| Posted on 2009-06-27 | by a guest


.: :.

first of all the nerd comment is outragious but we should not chastise him. instead we should pitty him for he does not know what he is missing.that being said i think this poem is absolutly astounding.

| Posted on 2009-05-07 | by a guest


.: :.

first of all the nerd comment is outragious but we should not chastise him. instead we should pitty him for he does not know what he is missing.that being said i think this poem is absolutly astounding.

| Posted on 2009-05-07 | by a guest


.: :.

There are many meanings to this poem. Yes, i do believe that it is about a living Hell on Earth. But yet i also wanna think its about the Lost City Of Alantas; which was out in the ocean and sunk. "a strange city lying alone" could be the Island Alantas in the middle of the ocean, "have gone to their eternal rest". "resemble nothing that is ourt" because it has nothing left of it. "Death looks gigantically down" could mean all of the lives that were took that long night when the city of Atlantas sank have gone beneath the sea so therfore "no rays from the holy heaven come down". when he is talking about "streams up the turrets silently-Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-up domes-up spires-up kingly halls- up fanes- up Babylon-like walls...etc." was about all the buildings and such that sunk under the waters of the sea. In the end death looks at you and hell is rising over the city of Atlantas.

| Posted on 2009-05-02 | by a guest


.: :.

Ah...When I first read this poem I was blown away by the imagery and meaning that popped into my mind. Here is my own humble view of "The City in the Sea":
I believe that the City is a place set in the far future were "The shrines and palaces and towers resemble nothing that is ours." This City, which Poe so hauntingly describes, is empty, abandoned, forgotten. There are no living things in it, only the "gaily-jewlled dead" and Death, "who has reared himself a throne." The City, the whole Earth in fact, no longer have humans, they have all died. Every one of them..."the good and the bad and the worst and the best have gone unto their eternal rest." Death alone is left, looking "gigantically down" from a proud tower in the town. Then something starts to happen: "The waves now have a redder glow/the hours are breathing faint and low." Beneath the dead City, the tortured Earth gives way beneath it, and it sinks, the waves closing in upon it, and the last great memorial of the human race is purged from the world, settling down, down, were "Hell rising from a thousand thrones, shall do it reverence." This poem is about extinction, I believe, were everything is dead, and the things mankind has left behind sink into oblivion.
That is my own personal view of Poe's "The City in the Sea." I've always avoided reading literal, historical translations of his poetry. It kills the magic and the wonder the poems invoke. Each to his own. Edgar Allen Poe will haunt and amaze us till our City sinks for real.
- Sloane J.

| Posted on 2009-04-23 | by a guest


.: :.

I think that the city symbolizes a person. The city is a good person when the sea is calm and it represents Heaven. The 'city' has done wrong when the sea is stormy and this represents hell. The waves reddening is symbolic to the flames of hell.

| Posted on 2009-03-27 | by a guest


.: :.

You know, I definitely think that this poem is not actually talking about a city, but actually in his mothers heart..
the death must be discussing the death of his mother and how someday he would like to scuba dive to see her (the shrines and palaces indicate his scuba gear shop)
...
another way to look at it is as if he is talking about hollywood and how ridiculous the famous are.
the reference to heaven indicates los angeles, the city of angels. i also visualizehim wanting out of the fame he received..
--
one more way to see this is his passion for eating
hes hungry and cannot find food,so he looks under the sea for the answers to hisproblems, the "redder glow" indicates that because pizza has a red glow
overall this is a great poem, i love poe. there are so many ways to look at it

| Posted on 2009-02-10 | by a guest


.: :.

I think this poem takes place in a city by the sea.

| Posted on 2009-02-10 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe the poem is making a metaphor between the submerged city and death, like the city is long forgotten and dead to the world. Its emptiness is eerie, and its silence, so strong that the city itself seems like a place that death, if personified, would reside. In other words, I guess, the city "reeks" if you will, of death. The only movement is that of a wave overhead.

| Posted on 2008-12-08 | by a guest


.: :.

To the 16 year old guest I am the same age and also a girl. I happen to love poetry and especially Poe and I agree completely with you on basically all your points and to the ignorant ass who made the comment about everyone being nerds, get a life and realize that just because you don't understand any subject matter above a five year old's comprehension, doesn't mean other people don't. So keep your stupid comments to yourself and go read a book, if you even know how.

| Posted on 2008-11-29 | by a guest


.: :.

To the educated people out there: Please read if you agree with me and share my distress that the future of the human race is relying on people who do not even understand poetry.
I think that the poem is a wonderful example of poetry at its finest. I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that the comment posted refering to nerds is not about the poem at all and is rather insulting. The person who wrote it should realise that poetry is an important part of society and does indeed capture emotions, events and people who are valued in society. By doing all this poetry helps to define society and capture history. Poetry is the language of the educated. To not realise the importance of poetry is to announce to the world that you are an uneducated fool who should be out trying to contribute to society instead of making ridiculous comments that only demonstrate the lack of refinement and intelligence of the person who posted it. I am a 16 yr old girl currently studying poetry and this site is rather helpful even if that comment posted does make me feel rather disillusioned in regards to the people contibuting to the future gene pool. I would analyse the poem but feel it would be wasted if the people who read it are uneducated idiots.
I believe the poem is about a city similar to atlantis but also has a subtle underlay of religious concepts and a philosophical air to it. All this adds to its greatness and this is why it is valued in socirty. After reading all the comments i realised that when studying this poem I should take a reader centred approach as all the ideas (excepting that one comment) are valid and correct.
Thankyou for reading this.

| Posted on 2008-10-20 | by a guest


.: :.

First, I wonder what on EARTH is the ridiculous comment accusing people of being nerds doing down there. It is certainly not an analysis, and it is a humongous insult in which I believe the person responsible for it should directly drop down an acursed cliff this very instant.
In relation to the poem:
(as a sidenote, "Resignedly beneath the sky//The melancholy waters lie." is an incredibly beautiful line!)
As usual, this poem is in touch with Poe's inner workings, that is to say, dark ones. He is incredibly fond of writing baout darkness and death. This poem is really too long to analyze fully here, but in summary, it is basically a beautiful poem about Death and his personification if it.
"Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence."
This line is almost ironic, as one examines the usage of words here. It is also symbolic of the taking over of the earth and possibly everything else by Hell. Rising from a thousand thrones - this would render it almost invincible! Clearly, Poe is convinced that the world is a living hell.
Death here, seems almost alive. It is like a king, albeit one of nothing. It seems to lord over nothing in particular, but is in control of a huge place, out of which many is in a vast ruins. This is a possible mockery, which I doubt since Poe is clearly very in touch with the dark side of life. Oxymoronic words like "hideously serene" are paired up to create a very disturbing effect. The City In The Sea seems to describe another world which, in an uncanny way, vaguely resembles ours and reminds us all, that to some extent it is not that far from the truth.

| Posted on 2008-06-20 | by a guest


.: all of you :.

SHUT UP YOU NERDS. I WOULD HOPE YOU ARE NOT ANALYZING THIS FOR LEISURE BECAUSE THAT IS REALLY NERDY!

| Posted on 2008-05-28 | by a guest


.: Historical Context :.

To understand This poem first we must look at the period of when Poe was writing. Poe was writing at a time when America had just won independence from Britain, and had cut a deal with the French and Spanish to aquire Louisiana and Florida. Some Americans even occupied parts of Mexican held countries and British held countries in the pacific. It was believed that the United States would soon hold all of the continent of North America around 1845 America once again began to threaten war with Britain.
"Time-eaten towers" is a metaphor for British cities that are old and historic and they "Tremble not" because Britain had one of the biggest armies in the world at theis time.
"Death looks gigantically down" is a reflection of how many people would die if Britain and America were to goto war again.
The red waves are a metaphor for the British army that shall engulf the city; at this time British soldiers wore red uniforms and the only thing that could come from such death and destuction is a living Hell.

| Posted on 2008-05-22 | by a guest


.: :.

It culd also be interpreted as a way of viewing and afterlife! And nonreligous belief of seeing the "afterlife" with eternal rest no pain no nothing just like the city in the sea!

| Posted on 2008-03-26 | by a guest


.: City In The Sea :.

The Sea could possibly mean his past of relationships which have ended all in death. And so Poe looks at it so with such gloom and despair, remembering how Death has beaten his spirit time and time again. "Hell, rising from a thousand thrones shall do it reverence". Death is viewed as a messenger from Satan, and Poe's world is becoming a living Hell.

| Posted on 2007-03-18 | by a guest




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