Commentary on The Sea and the Skylark

It is a regular Petrarchan sonnet, rhyming abbaabbacdcdcd, with a clearly marked division between octave and sestet, with, unusually, each section being again divided into half, into two quatrains or two tercets, as the case may be.

SkylarkIn the octave, Hopkins compares two ancient sounds: that of the sea, and that of a songbird, the skylark, one of whose favourite haunts is sand dunes. The first quatrain deals with the sea. Hopkins is walking along the shore near the North Wales town of Rhyl, some six or seven miles from the college. Rhyl was then an up-and-coming tourist resort on account of its wide sandy beach. Walking westwards, he would have the sea on his right hand. He remarks particularly on the contrasting sounds of the high and the low tide

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