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The Chambered Nautilus Summary
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Everything you need to understand or teach Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

  • The Chambered Nautilus Summary & Study Guide
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The Chambered Nautilus Summary

Introduction

With its rich imagery and ringing verse, “The Chambered Nautilus,” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, is one of the most enduring nature poems of the mid-nineteenth century. Its subject is the nautilus, a sea creature that lives inside a spiral shell. As it grows, the nautilus makes new, larger chambers of its shell in which to live, closing off the old chambers and gradually forming a spiral. Holmes compares the nautilus to a “ship of pearl” sailing through enchanted but dangerous waters until it is wrecked. The speaker or narrator of the poem uses the nautilus as a metaphor for the human soul, stressing that its example provides a “heavenly message” of how people should grow and develop through their lives. At the end of the poem, Holmes emphasizes the idea that humans expand their horizons until they achieve the spiritual freedom of heaven or the afterlife.

Although it may...

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Study Pack

The The Chambered Nautilus Study Pack contains about 24 pages of study material in 2 products, including:

The Chambered Nautilus Study Guide

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