Summary and Explanation

Lord George Gordon Byron came from a noble family, but his childhood days were not happy. He went to Trinity College Cambridge. He published his first collection of poems in 1808. Byron’s relationship with his half-sister (step-sister) Augusta Leigh, gave rise to scandal and gossip. It is said that this poem was written by Byron in honour of Augusta’s beauty.

Byron feels that Beauty’s daughters do not have the charm of Augusta. Augusta is very beautiful and Beauty’s daughters do not have the charm that Augusta has. Augusta’s beauty has powers of attracting people to her. Her voice is extremely musical. When water flows, one notices that water creates its own music. Augusta’s voice is as soothing as the music of the waters. The very oceans seem bewitched by the sound of music. (Here there is a double meaning. Augusta’s voice is extremely musical and one is taken in or hypnotised by her voice. The music of the waters has its own charm, and one can get carried away by it. But in any case, the music of Augusta’s voice and the sound of music of the waters both are very enticing) The very waves of the ocean are calmed down by the musical quality of Augusta’s voice. Even the minds are lulled to sleep on hearing this music. The winds are put to sleep, and in their sleep, the winds seen to be dreaming.

Since the waves of the ocean are gently moving, it seems that the moonlight falling on the waves is also moving. The light of the moon seems to be weaving a bright chain round the ocean. The moonlight seems to have encircled the ocean. As the waves keep rising and falling, it appears that the ocean is breathing. The ocean’s gentle breathing can be compared with the breathing of an infant (a baby) who is fast asleep.

The spirit of the poet and also the spirit of the world bows before the beauty of Augusta. The spirit adores you, worships you and loves to listen to the music of your voice. The heart (of the poet /admirer) is full of emotions which are extremely tender and soft. Just as the oceans during the summer months swell due to ice melting, similarly does the heart of the poet swell with soft emotions for his beloved. These emotions are extremely soft and tender. (Note: the poet thinks that his beloved is the most beautiful lady in the world and no one can be compared to her beauty.)

Assessment Questions

1. Is the ocean bewitched? (under some magical spell ?)
Ans. The ocean appears to be under some magical spell (bewitched) on hearing the musical voice of the poet’s beloved. The musical sound seems to make the ocean pause. The beloved’s voice has this hypnotic effect.

2. What is the wind doing?
Ans. Even the wind, on hearing the musical voice of the beloved, is lulled sleep. The wind then begins to dream.

3. What is the moon doing?
Ans. The moon seems to be weaving a chain round the ocean. The moon’s light seems to fall in such a way that one gets the impression that the moon is making or forming a chain round the ocean.

4. With whom has the poet compared the ocean’s sleep?
Ans. The ocean’s sleep has been compared with that of a baby. Just as a baby breathes gently when it is fast asleep, similarly, is the ocean breathing gently while sleeping. (The ocean has been personified as if it is a living being.

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