In this touching and memorable love poem, ‘Distant Shore‘, Lindenmuth addresses themes of love, distance, endurance, and peace. The mood is calm and warm throughout, with the speaker’s tone encouraging a peaceful contemplation of the power that love has to span time and distance. These things are, in this speaker’s relationship, meaningless.
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Summary of Distant Shore
The poem depicts one speaker’s relationship with an unknown woman in the best possible light. It is beautiful, strong, and indomitable. The two might not be in the same location as the speaker is writing these words but they are together all the same. Their love spans any distance, as long as they are happy with one another. In the final lines, the speaker concludes by acknowledging the fact that they are certain their lover feels the same way they do.
You can read the full poem here at Poem Hunter.
Structure of Distant Shore
‘Distant Shore’ by William Lindenmuth is a thirty-eight line poem that is contained within a single stanza of text. The lines follow a simple rhyme scheme of ABCB throughout, changing end sounds from line to line. Lindenmuth also chose to utilize fairly short lines, the majority of them are no more than four words long, most are only three.
Poetic Techniques in Distant Shore
In ‘Distant Shore’ Lindenmuth makes use of several poetic techniques. These include, but are not limited to, alliteration, repetition, enjambment, and sibilance. The latter can be seen in the last lines of the poem as well as in several other locations. It is similar to alliteration but is concerned with soft vowel sounds such as “s” and “th”. This kind of repetition usually results in a prolonged hissing or rushing sound. It is often used to mimic another sound, like water, wind, or any kind of fluid movement. For example, “shore,” “she” and “stands” in the first two lines.
Alliteration occurs when words are used in succession, or at least appear close together, and begin with the same sound. For instance, the general repetition of words like “distant” and “distance” and a specific example like “beat” and “beautiful” in lines twenty-nine and thirty.
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. For example, the transition between the first four lines of the poem.
Repetition is another well-used technique in ‘Distant Shore’. It is the use and reuse of a specific technique, word, tone or phrase within a poem. For example, the reoccurring theme and allusion to distance having no meaning, the repeated reference to indomitable love, and the images of solitude juxtaposed those of togetherness.
Analysis of Distant Shore
In the first lines of ‘Distant Shore’ the speaker begins by making use of the line that later came to be used as the title. He describes a scene, one that is peaceful and quiet. A woman, someone who goes unnamed throughout the poem, is standing on a beach. The short three word lines are choppy, and with the use of enjambment, make the poem move quickly. It is easy to read due to these features but also because of Lindenmuth’s use of language.
The speaker is in love with this person, the next lines reveal. They are at a distance from one another but, as the sixth line states, “Love knows no distance”. It does not matter, the speaker is able to walk her home even if they aren’t physically present. Their love comes together, weaving in-between all the open spaces until none is left. There is no room for solitude or loneliness, just peace and love.
The perfect rhymes in these lines help the mood of the poem develops. A calm atmosphere is created where everything feels in sync.
The simple and impactful language continues into the next lines of ‘Distant Shore’. The speaker notes how “unimportant” the miles between them and their lover are. It is only happiness and love that is important. These are the things that bridge the gap. Lindenmuth uses a “smile” as a symbol for their contended state.
Lindenmuth also continues to use enjambment in these lines. The transition from line fifteen to line sixteen is especially noteworthy. A reader should also take note of the use of “revealed” and “released” at the ends of lines six and seven. These are similar in sound, creating an additional half-rhyme.
In these lines the speaker is emphasizing the connection they feel to their lover. Even separated they are able to reveal everything they want to this person. There is nothing concealed they are, in mind and heart alone, “side by side”.
The speaker goes on in the next lines of ‘Distant Shore’ to describe how “time is unimportant”. It is unimportant in the same way that distance was in the previous lines. At this point, rather than creating a clear thought line from one topic to the next, the speaker lists out, line by line, feelings and thoughts. They are considering the “beautiful ride” that is their love with this person and how they’re sure that she is feeling the same way as they are.
In the last lines, Lindenmuth uses a technique known as sibilance. It is seen through the repetition of words starting with the letter “s” or a soft, hissing like sound like “th”. In this case, “sweet sweet” and “seek” finish off the poem on a peaceful and smooth note.