The poem has three stanzas. The number of lines id not even. In the 1st stanza the poet presents the sea as a hungry dog, a suitable metaphor. The dog is giant and grey in colour. Like any dogs it gnaws on – stones with clashing teeth. When the supply is over the sea moans for more. The poet creates vivid visual and auditory images through the use of alliteration, assonance and onomatopoeia.
“Hour upon hour he gnaws
The rumbling, tumbling stones [onomatopoeia]
And “Bones, bones, bones, bones! [Assonance]
The giant sea-dog moans
Liking its greasy paws ”
The long drawn out vowel sounds add a ponderous (heavy) tone to the stanza.
In the second stanza the tone changes with the introduction of the lighter /s/ /r/ and /f/ sounds. The stanza moves quickly indicating a change in the mood of the sea.
“And when the night wing roars
And the moon rocks in the stormy cloud
He bounds to his feet with and snuffs and sniffs”
During storms and the monsoon the sea becomes violent. The poet likens it to a dog bounding to its feet. The sea lifts its waves high and throws them against the cliffs. The wind howls creating an eerie atmosphere. “And howls and hollos long and loud” the longer vowel sounds once again alluding to the moaning winds.
Once again in the last stanza the sea is calm. During May and June even the sea and the wind become docile. Like a dog that has become tired of play the sea lies on the sandy shores so quietly that it scarcely moves.
“He lies on the sandy shores
So quiet, so quiet, he scarcely snores”
The last line has a hushed quality. It is the same tone one would use to speak around a sleeping person.