For Julia, In the Deep Water

For Julia, In the Deep Water

By John N. Morris

The instructor we hire
because she does not love you
Leads you into the deep water,
The deep end
Where the water is darker—
Her open, encouraging arms
That never get nearer
Are merciless for your sake.

You will dream this water always
Where nothing draws nearer,
Wasting your valuable breath
You will scream for your mother—
Only your mother is drowning
Forever in the thin air
Down at the deep end.
She is doing nothing,
She never did anything harder.
And I am beside her.

i am beside her in this imagination.
We are waiting
Where the water is darker.
You are over your head,
Screaming, you are learning
Your way toward us,
You are learning how
In the helpless water
It is with our skill
We live in what kills us.

Summary of For Julia, In the Deep Water

  • Popularity of “For Julia, In the Deep Water”: John N. Morris, an acclaimed American poet, wrote ‘For Julia, in the Deepwater’. It is a meaningful poem that won popularity for its universal subject matter. It was first published in 1976, in The New Yorker in a volume, “The Glass Houses.” The text revolves around a girl, trying to learn the difficult strategies of swimming. The writer explains how she learns to cope with the challenges of life without any candid support from her parents. This simple yet significant literary piece touched hearts because it highlights how we struggle to make our way in life.
  • “For Julia, In the Deep Water” As a Representative of Life: The poem portrays the challenging experience of a girl named, Julia, who is struggling to swim with her instructor. The poem begins when her father informs the audience that he has hired a swimming instructor for her daughter. She will help her learn swimming and gain expertise. Regardless of her doubts and fears, the instructor will perform her task as she will expose Julia to the most demanding skills in swimming. After talking about her instructor, the father shifts his narrative and talks about the worry and anxiety of Julia’s mother. It seems that the mother has hardly decided to let her go and experience the challenges on her own. Although Julia’s parents are not physically with her in this traumatic experience, they are waiting for her to join them. The poem expresses how parents want their children to be confident and self-righteous.
  • Major Themes in “For Julia, In the Deep Water”: Parenthood, challenging life, and experience are the notable themes of the poem. On the surface level, the poem deals with a simple incident where Julia is exposed to a daring challenge of her life. Her parents have hired a swimming instructor that will help her eradicate her fears about swimming. However, on a deeper level, the poem has a universal appeal; it is not about Julia, it portrays the life of everyman, narrating how life throws us into a challenging situation. Most of the time, we have to experience life’s troubling and crucial moments without the support of our loved ones.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “For Julia, In the Deep Water”

literary devices are tools that the writers use to create meanings in their texts, convey their emotions, feelings, and ideas to the readers. They also make the poems lifelike and connect the readers with the real message. John N. Morris also uses some literary devices in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /i/ in “I am beside her in this imagination”.
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “Where nothing draws nearer” and the sound of /ng/ in “She is doing nothing”.
  3. Allegory: It is a figure of speech in which abstract ideas and principles are described in terms of characters, figures, and events. This is an allegorical literary piece that sheds light on the bitter realities of life.
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

The instructor we hire
because she does not love you
Leads you into the deep water.”

  1. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning. The speaker used this device in the opening lines of the poem, where parents sent their daughter to a dangerous adventure alone.
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “Screaming, you are learning”, “You will scream for your mother” and “She never did anything harder.”
  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. The poet compares “deep dark water” with the hardships of life.
  4. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. “deep water” and “helpless water” symbolize the troubles we face in life.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “For Julia, In the Deep Water”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
  2. Repetition: There is a repetition of the verse “where the water is darker” which creates a musical quality in the poem.
  3. Refrain: The lines repeated at some distance in the poems are called ‘refrain’. The verse “where the water is darker” occurs repeatedly. Therefore, it is a refrain in this poem.
  4. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each comprising a different number of verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated are suitable to use when teaching life-changing lessons to children.

“It is with our skill
We live in what kills us.”