Unit Two : Ecology and Change Full Fathom Five Thy Father Lies – William Shakespeare
The Heritage of Words

The poem “Full Fathom Five Thy Father Lies” is a song sung by the Spirit Ariel in Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. The Spirit sings this song to Ferdinand, the prince of Naples, who mistakenly thinks that his father is drowned.
The speaker of this poem is Ariel who is very powerful spirit of wind who flies lightly and invisibly playing music and singing songs. Here he sings the song about the death of Ferdinand’s father. According to him, Ferdinand’s father lies thirty feet below the surface of the sea. Ferdinand is very worried about the death of his father. Giving him sympathy Ariel says that his father has got quite meaningful death. His body is not decayed. Every part of his body has been changed into something beautiful, valuable and strange. His eyes are transformed into pearls and bones are’ changed into coral. The sea nymphs welcome his death by ringing the death bell “Ding-dong” every hour.
                                   In this poem, the spirit Ariel has presented very artful and melodious description about the death of Ferdinand’s father. The prince of Naples is worried thinking that his father is drowned. He is very sad about the meaningless death of his father. However, Ariel gives him sympathy by making the death meaningful through his powerful and magical description. He says that nothing of the dead body has decayed or rotten wastefully. Everything of the dead body is changed into meaningful and precious objects at the bottom of the sea. Ariel finally requests Ferdinand to listen to the death-bell rung by the sea nymphs to welcome his father’s beautiful and meaningful death.
Question And Answers

1. Define the poetic devices used in the poem with examples.
The following are the poetic devices used in this poem.
a. Alliteration: It is the repetition of the initial sound of word many times in a sentence. Example: Full Fathom Five thy Father lies. Here, the ‘F’ sound is repeated four times in the sentence.
b. Onomatopoeia: It is a way of expressing on object by imitating its sound instead of naming the object. Example: Ding-dong-bell Mew-cat
c. Assonance: It’s the process of making a vowel sound long and nasal to create special effect and to maintain the poetic matter. Example: d-i-ng, d-o-ng

2. Write a brief account on ‘Art and Life’ or ‘Life and Art’.
The skill of creation is called Art. People in possession (having) of this creative skill are known as artist. Art may be different by its form, style and time. Although it is different by its form and style, art always influences human beings. Art always remains as an effective and important motivational factor for human beings. In order to live a happy and satisfied life, art is an inevitable aspect of life. An art in its supreme form is able to provide us the deepest inner freshness which in turn inspires us to make ourselves happy and amiable. To get rid of difficulties of life, it is immensely important for us to appreciate. By appreciating art, we can keep ourselves happy by forgetting the problems of life.

Human life is very transient (short) and when we die our life is finished. But despite this appearance of physical existence, an artist can live an immortal life. Life is sure to come to an end but art remains forever. Laxmi Prasad Devkota is remaining immortal among Nepali people for his fine piece of art in, literature in the form ofMuna Madan. Other great artist’s of different artistic fields are still immortal because of their great works of art. When we enjoy art we find amiability within ourselves thereby inspiring us to appreciate art. It is indeed true that all works of art provide us the deepest experience and higher value of our life.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Write a summary of the poem in one paragraph.
  2. Is death meaningful in this poem ?