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“Riders To The Sea” by J.M Synge

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 909
  • Category: Poems

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Some of nature’s most precious gifts, actually have a dark side to them. What I mean about that is take rain for an example. Rain can come very peaceful and smooth. But we all know rain can get violent and dangerous in a heartbeat. In the poem “Riders To The Sea” depicts this statement. Nature is truly a beautiful savage. In the poem “Riders To The Sea” three literary elements will be discussed and, if any literary element affected my outlook on the poem.

One of the literary elements that caught my eye on the poem is theme. Theme is; the subject of a talk, a piece of writing, a person’s thoughts, or an exhibition; a topic. (Dictionary.com). The theme of the poem “Riders To The Sea” is sadness. The reason I am saying it is sadness is because the mom looses six sons and a husband to the sea. For example lines eleven through fourteen. The young priest says he’s known the like of it. “If it’s Michael’s they are,” says he, “you can tell herself he’s got a clean burial by the grace of God, and if they’re not his, let no one say a word about them, for she’ll be getting her death,” says he, “with crying and lamenting.” (J.M Synge 2013)

The writer really got me hooked here by all the sadness portrayed in the poem. He painted such a clear thought with the details. I can just picture a woman getting the news that all they found was her son’s clothes washed up, and that he is probably dead. That is a strong mother to still have hope but sad at the same time.

Tone is a very important literary element. Tone is; the general character or attitude of a place, piece of writing, situation, etc (Internet 2013). The tone in this is sadness. It is very sad to lose a close family member. In this case Maurya has lost nine family members. She has endured a miserable life losing all six sons. I couldn’t imagine losing a kid that would have to be one of the hardest things to go through. To me this is sad death between the family. Especially in the lines three hundred and eleven through three hundred and fifteen one. They’re all together this time, and the end is come. May the Almighty God have mercy on Bartley’s soul, and on Michael’s soul, and on the souls of Sheamus and Patch, and Stephen and Shawn (bending her head);and may He have mercy on my soul, Nora, and on the soul of every one is left living in the world.

This to me describes the sadness and the closure that Mauyra got with her boys.  The next literary element is symbolism. Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas

or qualities (Internet 2013). A big part of the story that everything fell under was the ocean. I say this because, the ocean took all of the Maurya’s son. To me the ocean is representing another form of death. The reason this represents death to me. Is simply that we don’t know when we are going to die. It just happens! Just like the sons in the story. Nobody knew that the sons were going to die. Until the end. With the last son Bartley. As Bartley was looking for his brother if he was washed up. Maurya had a vision that the sea (death) was going to get him. As mentioned in line two hundred and twenty three through two hundred and twenty eight. “I’m after seeing him this day, and he riding and galloping. Bartley came first on the red mare; and I tried to say “God speed you,” but something choked the words in my throat. He went by quickly; and “the blessing of God on you,” says he, and I could say nothing. I looked up then, and I crying, at the gray pony, and there was Michael upon it — with fine clothes on him, and new shoes on his feet.” (J.M Synge 2013)

In this case they were kind of ok if they didn’t find the bodies. They mentioned that its a holy burial if they didn’t find the bodies because there ultimately buried by the sea. With the sea representing death I feel like that is ironic. Which leads me to my last literary element. Irony is, Is created when a discrepancy or contradiction occurs between what is expected to happen and what actually happens in a situation (situational irony) or in an expressed statement (verbal irony)(Clugston, R. W., 2010). The irony in this story was the ocean. The reason I’m mentioning the ocean. Is because we see the ocean as peaceful and rather beautiful sometimes. Little people know that there is a dark side to everything. It kinda of makes you think twice before getting in the ocean.

Well the precious natures gift aren’t always precious. Everything does tend to have a dark side no matter what it is. Today I have talked about the poem “Riders To The Sea”. Also I have described the literary elements that have stood out to me that gave my outlook on the story a different opinion.


Clugston, R. W., (2010). Journey Into Literature. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/ (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved January 21, 2013, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/

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