Introduction

Ballad of the Tempest by James Thomas Fields describes the experiences of a ship crew as they go through a storm. This ballad is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play ‘The Tempest’. The poem has a religious theme as the sailors being reminded of God alleviates their fears of dying in the storm. 

Explanation

Stanza 1

We were crowded in the cabin, 
Not a soul would dare to sleep, – 
It was midnight on the waters, 
And a storm was on the deep.

The first stanza of the poem shows that it was midnight still no one dared to sleep as the storm was so terrifying that no one could sleep. All were frightened of getting drowned as the storm was very deep and extreme.

Stanza 2

‘Tis a fearful thing in winter 
To be shattered by the blast, 
And to hear the rattling trumpet 
Thunder, “Cut away the mast!

It was fearful because it was winter season. The ship was about to break apart by the pressure of wind. The sailors heard the rattling sound of the trumpet and someone thundered to cut away the mast.

Stanza 3

So, we shuddered there in silence, – 
For the stoutest held his breath, 
While the hungry sea was roaring 
And the breakers talked with death. 

All sailors were in silence out of fear. Even the strongest brave person had held his breath. The sea was roaring like a hungry lion. The large turbulent waves talked with death and moving towards the land.

Stanza 4

As thus we sat in darkness 
Each one busy with his prayers, 
“We are lost!” the captain shouted, 
As he staggered down the stairs. 

All were sitting in darkness, frightened. Everyone was praying to God for their safety. At that moment the captain shouted that they were lost when he was coming unsteadily down the stairs.

Stanza 5

But his little daughter whispered, 
As she took his icy hand, 
“Isn’t God upon the ocean, 
Just the same as on the land?  

Even his little daughter by her innocent heart whispered. She took her father’s cold hands and asked if the God upon the ocean was the same as on land.

Stanza 6

Then we kissed the little maiden, 
And we spake in better cheer, 
And we anchored safe in harbour 
When the morn was shining clear

By hearing her talk all got some hope and prayed to the God earnestly. All kissed the little maiden and suddenly the astonishing change occurred, and the sailors anchored the ship safely in harbour. The morning in the sky was shining very clearly. The danger which comes like a mountain could disappear like sand. Fortune favours the brave. God is everywhere but man has faith in him.

Conclusion

In this simple poem, the poet talks about the power of faith. In times of difficulty, complete faith in God will give us peace of mind. The poem also shows that we should submit ourselves to the will of God because through human endeavour alone things cannot change.