Within ‘I Have Crossed a Great Ocean of Loneliness’ Green depicts finding the perfect partner as a struggle, but one that is very much worth it. The main themes of this work are love, relationships, and the future.
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The six lines of ‘I Have Crossed a Great Ocean of Loneliness’ describes one speaker’s journey to find the listener, the strength of their heart, and the power and incorruptibility of their heart. It was Green’s intention that the listener takes comfort in the idea of such powerful love and remember that there is no reason to fear the future.
You can read the full poem here.
‘I Have Crossed a Great Ocean of Loneliness’ by John Mark Green is a six-line poem that’s contained within a single stanza. The lines do not conform to a specific rhyme scheme, but they are all similar in length/number of syllables. Green does make use of half-rhyme though. These are seen through the repetition of assonance or consonance. This means that either a vowel or consonant sound is reused within one line or multiple lines of verse. For example, “crossed” and “trust” in lines two and three as well as “moments” and “remember”.
Despite its brevity, Green does make use of several poetic techniques within the text. These include metaphor, hyperbole, symbolism and enjambment. The first, metaphor, is seen through the poet’s depiction of his heart as made of materials that are “built to outlast storms”. Poets use metaphors when they want to say something “is” something else, not that it is “like” or “as” something else. In this case, Green is alluding to a physical construction that’s less organic and more steel and concrete. It is solid, strong, and capable of enduring anything the world throws at it.
Hyperbole is an intentionally exaggerated description, comparison or exclamation meant to further the writer’s important themes, or make a specific impact on a reader. In the third and fourth lines, the poet expresses the lengths he went to to “find you”. He says he crossed a “great ocean of loneliness”. In these lines, he uses a metaphor to compare his loneliness to an ocean, but is at the same time vastly exaggerating the effort it took to “find you”.
Symbolism and Enjambment
Symbolism is present when a poet uses objects, colours, sounds, or places to represent something else. In the case of ‘I Have Crossed a Great Ocean of Loneliness’ the poet uses the “weather” and “storm[s]” as a symbol for the difficulties, the world can throw at a committed couple. They represent struggle, loss, pain, and anything else that might add stress to a relationship.
Another important technique commonly used in poetry is enjambment. It occurs when a line is cut off before its natural stopping point. Enjambment forces a reader down to the next line, and the next, quickly. One has to move forward in order to comfortably resolve a phrase or sentence. There are a couple of examples in this poem including the transitions between lines one and two as well as three and four.
And in those moments
remember that I have crossed
In the first lines of ‘I Have Crossed…’ the speaker begins by taking the reader into the middle of one person’s emotional struggle. The poem begins “in media res” or in the middle of an action, sentence, or scenario. With the word “And,” Green immediately brings the reader into the text without preamble.
He is addressing a specific listener, to whom he refers to as “you”. This person is someone of great importance to him. He knows that there are moments in which “you” are afraid “to trust love”. There are no details included in these lines, as to who this person is or why they might be afraid. This choice allows the “you” to apply to more than just the single person for whom the poem was written. The reader is able to relate personally to the words and feel as though they are being spoken to directly.
a great ocean of loneliness to find you.
It was built to outlast storms.
In the next lines of ‘I Have Crossed a Great Ocean of Loneliness,’ the speaker tells the reader/listener that they must remember that he has “crossed / a great ocean of loneliness to find you”. This person has done a great deal, struggled and hurt in order to get where he wanted to be and “find you”. Through the depiction of this ordeal, the listener is meant to understand the speaker’s love. While also remembering that there is no reason for them to trust this person’s commitment.
The next two lines speak on the narrator’s heart. It is not ‘fair-weather,” meaning it isn’t built to survive only sunny, blissful days. Instead, he made his heart to outlast storms. His heart is made of stronger material and the reader shouldn’t fear the future.