Late Ferry, a quatrain poem written by Robert Gray, concerns the poet, observing the long sight of a ferry leaving the bay, going towards the city as it wades under the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, fading away into the night. The poet has made the ferry the main idea of the poet, vividly describing the different effects of lighting on and around the ferry.
In this poem, Robert Gray has portrayed the image of the light effect on the ferry in each quatrain throughout the poem as being the setting around the ferry. Gray used only a specific type of figure of speech, simile, in his stanzas to implement the impact of light around the ferry.
In the first stanza, the poet has introduced the ferry as its first stage of departure, as he witnesses from his balcony. “I stay to watch from the balcony, as it goes up onto the huge dark harbour…” introducing the concept of light, the poet indicated that the ferry began at the dark part of the harbour, leaving the wooden jetty.
Continuing from the first stanza, the poet established the idea of light as the ferry began to move towards the city. As the ferry travels along the early stages of the harbour, the street lights “florescence over the dark water” is reflecting on the water. Here the poet has given the simile: “like chromosomes untying and dividing” where the poet has given a image of the water ripples, untying and dividing like the chromosomes at the stage of mitosis (cell division).
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As the poet starts his fourth stanza, he uses the simile: “…the tomato stake patch of the yachts, with their orange lights; …” Here the poet describes the next stage of the journey of the ferry that he witnesses as it passes through the yachts, being in a patch, grouped together, as the stakes are metaphorically the masks of the yachts.
Progressing with the effect of light, the poet uses an effective simile to indicate the spreading of the light from the environment around the ferry, as it passes under the Bridge. “the longer white lights feel nervously, about the blackness towards here, like hands after the light switch” Here, Gray has used a simple act of a person in the darkness-where the persons hand is out, reaching and searching for the light switch- linking it to the idea of the light spreading and feeling for the clouds, the water and the air, spreading everywhere around the ferry.
In the seventh stanza, the poet has personified the ferry, portraying the ferry’s movement, “The ferry wades now into the board” using the word ‘wade’, the poet has created the image of the ferry slowly progressing across the harbour as if a person is walking in knee-deep water.
In addition to the description of the wading ferry, is the next stage of the departure of the ferry. “To be lost soon amongst the silver blizzard of light swarming below the Bridge” Here the poet has used another simile to describe the state of the Bridge, where there is a blizzard of light, in other words storm of light, from the cars travelling along the Bridge; reflecting back onto the ferry, however, the poet shifted from the ferry to the Bridge, as it has the most effect on the ferry at this stage of the departure.
As the ferry moves passed the Bridge and along the harbour, the poet described the scene as being a giant stage show, as he relates it to the Busby Berkley spectacular, an elaborate stage show. Continuing the concept of theatres, the poet shifts back to the ferry, as it reaches its last stage as it wanders beneath the city, describing it as “that boat is small as a moth wandering through the projectors beam.” The poet used this simile to illustrate the ferry’s distance like the moth under a beam of light at a stage.
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As the poet describes the distant ferry as he loses sight of it, he returns to the concept of darkness where he previously mentioned it in the first stanza, when the ferry began to departure from the bay. “I can see it while it’s on darkness, and it looks like a honeycomb, filled as it is with its yellow light” Here the poet has used a combination of light and darkness to link to the idea of himself losing sight of the ferry.
Throughout the poem, the positive attitude towards the ferry and the lights around it has flowed along continuously in each stanza. The poet has described the scene of the ferry as being an enjoying and joyful sight to witness, adding the effect of light to emphasise the joy and beauty of the view.
Robert Gray has used an interesting style of writing to describe his joyful sight of the departing ferry, and that style of literature is enjambment. He linked the previous stanza to the next in order to create the sense of flow and continuation of the ferry, with the addition of the vivid description of the effect of light on the ferry. Furthermore, the poet has written his poem in a first person perspective. The style of Gray’s writing indicates that witnessing the sight of the ferry at the harbour is once an event that happened in his life, therefore Robert Gray has written in an authorial style of writing.
The overall impact of the poem has no affect on the reader’s emotion; however it creates the experience that the poet went through witnessing the joyful moment of the ferry’s departure.
Late Ferry, Robert Gray