The Dead Crab
A rosy shield upon its back,
That not the hardest storm could crack,
From whose sharp edge projected out
Ban pin-point eyes staring about;
Beneath, the well-knit cote-armure
That gave to its weak belly power;
The clustered legs with plated joints
That ended in stiletto points;
The clas like mouths it held outside:-
I cannot think this creature died
By storm or fish or sea-fowl harmed
Walking the sea so heavily armed;
Or does it make for death to be
Oneself a living armoury?
The poem The Dead Crab by Andrew Young is a short and seemingly simple piece of work. However, its length and subject matter do not diminish the poem’s rich stylistic qualities.
In a general outline of the poem, it is a sonnet with an AABBCCDDEEFFGG rhyme scheme. From the first reading the reader can already discern the textual patterning of the poem. It is divided into two parts, which deviates from the conventional sonnet of 3 stanzas with four lines each and an ending couplet. The first part starts from line 1 to line 9, while the second part from line 10 to line 14. The first part is the persona’s physical description of the crab, but the second is his reflection of the subject. The Dead Crab also makes use of poetic license to make syntactic manipulation through the use of inversion, parallelism and principle of end-focus, as discussed later on.
The first part leaves little room for literary interpretation as it is a rather unambiguous description of the crab’s anatomy. However, stylistically, the persona leaves much room for analysis through his interesting choice of words and punctuation.