The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Summary: The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes is a poem about the nautilus, which is a creature that lives in a shell. The creature adds on a new, larger chamber, every year for it to live in because of its growth.

Section One:

  • Poets pretend the nautilus sails in magical lands that have sirens and mermaids

Section Two:

  • The nautilus is broken, the shell is cracked and the insides are seen

Section Three:

  • The nautilus worked hard every year to make its shell bigger because it was growing

Section Four:

  • The nautilus is dead, out of the sea and by observing the shell has lead to understanding of it

Section Five:

  • The narrator tells the nautilus to continue to create its shell and grow.

Other Notes:

  • The nautilus is probably dead because of the line "wrecked is the ship of pearl" ; and "living gauze no more unfurl"
  • The narrator says the growing process is difficult and lots of work
  • The narrator has learned the creature builds the shell bigger and bigger to accommodate its growth from looking at the shell

© 2009 copyright The Chambered Nautilus | Oliver Wendell Holmes