Wreck Hesperus Poem Analysis Essays

After the "Do Now," I will explain to students that our new unit is Actions and Reactions. For this unit, we will be answering the question: How do perceptions affect actions? This question will stay posted during this unit.

Next we well be listening to a poem, "The Wreck of the Hesperus." I am choosing to read this poem because it is a great launch into the unit. Students will get an opportunity to distinguish between the three different perceptions of the situation in the poem as well as the actions and reactions of the characters and compare them to the actual circumstances. Eventually, we will tie this back to the essential question. While we listen and read, we want to be able to determine and discuss the three different perceptions of the circumstance presented in the poem (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a) using details from what we have read and heard. Before doing that, I think it is important that my students have a solid understanding of the poem; therefore, I will play an audio of the poem as the follow along.



I won't be showing the entire five minute video; I will stop it at the end of the poem. During this first reading, I will require that students simply listen and follow along in their books in order to try to make sense of the circumstance and perceptions of the characters. I chose this audio because there is an image of a wave hitting the rocks at sea and soothing music playing in the background, but there are no other images that might take away from their listening, reading, and comprehension of the poem.

After the first reading, I will ask students to turn and talk about what is happening in the poem (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1a). I am doing this to see if they have the general gist of the plot because they will read more closely in the next section of the lesson.


   English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman.
The Harvard Classics.  
I was the schooner Hesperus,
    That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
    To bear him company.
Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,
    Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
    That ope in the month of May.
The skipper he stood beside the helm,
    His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
    The smoke now West, now South.
Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
    Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
‘I pray thee, put into yonder port,
    For I fear a hurricane.
‘Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
    And to-night no moon we see!’
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
    And a scornful laugh laughed he.
Colder and louder blew the wind,
    A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
    And the billows frothed like yeast.
Down came the storm, and smote amain
    The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
    Then leaped her cable’s length.
‘Come hither! come hither! my little daughtèr,
    And do not tremble so;
For I can weather the roughest gale
    That ever wind did blow.’
He wrapped her warm in his seaman’s coat
    Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar,
    And bound her to the mast.
‘O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
    Oh say, what may it be?’
‘’Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!’—
    And he steered for the open sea.
‘O father! I hear the sound of guns,
    Oh say, what may it be?’
‘Some ship in distress, that cannot live
    In such an angry sea!’
‘O father. I see a gleaming light,
    Oh say, what may it be?’
But the father answered never a word,
    A frozen corpse was he.
Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
    With his face turned to the skies,
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
    On his fixed and glassy eyes.
Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
    That savèd she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave,
    On the Lake of Galilee.
And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
    Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
    Tow’rds the reef of Norman’s Woe.
And ever the fitful gusts between
    A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf
    On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.
The breakers were right beneath her bows,
    She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
    Like icicles from her deck.
She struck where the white and fleecy waves
    Looked soft as carded wool,
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
    Like the horns of an angry bull.
Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
    With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,
    Ho! ho! the breakers roared!
At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
    A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
    Lashed close to a drifting mast.
The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
    The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown seaweed,
    On the billows fall and rise.
Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,
    In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
    On the reef of Norman’s Woe!

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