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The Chambered Nautilus
Interactive Literature Selections

Literary Tools
Apostrophe. An apostrophe is a rhetorical device by which a speaker turns from the audience as a whole to address a single person or thing. Look for an example of apostrophe in “The Chambered Nautilus.”

Stanza. A stanza is a recurring pattern of grouped lines in a poem. The pattern formed by the ends of the lines in each stanza is called the rhyme scheme.

Reader's Resource
The Chambered Nautilus” was published in the February 1858 issue of the Atlantic Monthly in one of Holmes’s essays in The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. The creature of the title is a mollusk, related to clams and octopi, that gradually builds a spiral, pearly-lined shell with a series of air-filled chambers. The creature acquired the name nautilus from the Greek word for “sailor,” because of the belief that it had a membrane that served as a sail, by means of which it navigated the waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Holmes may have conceived the idea for the poem when reading the essay “Compensation,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which compares human development to that of a shellfish.

Determine the rhyme pattern by making a chart like the one below. On the left, list the rhyming words in each stanza. On the right, give the rhyme pattern in each stanza. The first stanza has been done for you. As you read the poem, pay attention to the rhyme pattern of each stanza.

readers journal
What do you think of and feel when you touch or listen to a seashell?

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