Analysis of the poem "The Shell" by James Stephens?

Hi there!

I can actually understand this poem and it's makes sense that the poet is talking about the things happening in the shell. How ever, my teacher gave this assignment and asked to connect it with Lord of Flies where I couldn't think of anything. Now my questions are:

1. Why does the poem has 2 stanzas?

2. What's the theme of this poem?

3. list the different literary devices like similie, metaphor,allteartion,etc.

4.How do u explain its meaning?

5. *IMP.How does this poem connect with Lord of Flies?

Here is the poem that I want to get some help with.

And then I pressed the shell

Close to my ear

And listened well,

And straightaway like a bell

Came low and clear

The slow, sad murmur of far distant seas,

Whipped by an icy breeze

Upon a shore

Wind-swept and desolate.

It was a sunless strand that never bore

The footprint of a man,

Nor felt the weight

Since time began

Of any human quality or stir

Save what the dreary winds and waves incur.

And in the hush of waters was the sound

Of pebbles rolling round,

For ever rolling with a hollow sound.

And bubbling sea-weeds as the waters go

Swish to and fro

Their long, cold tentacles of shiny grey.

There was no day,

Nor ever came a night

Setting the stars alight

To wonder at the moon:

Was twilight only and the frightened croon,

Smitten to whimpers, of the dreary wind

And waves that journeyed blind-

And then I loosed my ear- O it was sweet

To hear a cart go jolting down the street.

James Stephens

You're help will be highly appreciated and thanks for reading the whole text <3


It only has one stanza. The theme to me is about the need for other humans and human interaction, because after all the time the speaker spends with the shell imagining a desolate shore where no human had ever been, he takes the shell away and feels that the sound of a cart rolling down a street is a really sweet sound, because he had come to miss the human quality and air in his time away in the shell. Or being in the shell got him into a quiet place in his spirit where he could hear simple things like a cart in present time, which to the speaker was very pleasant.

The devices are internal and end rhyme, iambic meter

"swept and desolate" is assonance

"rolling round, sunless strand" is consonance


Nov 11 at 19:50


Nov 11 at 23:36

You best see your physician about your ear

Nov 12 at 3:45

It has a very big connection with lord of the flies because the poem is about the isolation and in loftf boys suffer great isolation

Nov 12 at 8:17

hi.the theme is that man cannot isolate himself from the busy and materialistic for a long time.the poet has used a very soothing and pleasant style.

Nov 12 at 13:12

The poem has 2 stanzas 1st stanza is from and then i pressed the shell and waves incur and 2nd stanza is from and in hush down the street and from my opinion the theme of the poem is that the poet is trying to understand to watching ZINDAGI GULZAR HAI on frind 8 pm ;)

Nov 12 at 18:30