Meaning in “Infanta Marina”

Image courtesy of Terry Straehley under licence

We are given a strong hint toward the meaning of this poem in its title: “Infanta” (essentially a Spanish princess) “Marina” (marine, or relating to the sea). The common understanding of this poem is that it depicts a woman, this “Princess of the Sea,” who walks along the beach at twilight. Vendler proposes—and I agree—that the poem is primarily about possession and creation, indicated by the series of “of” constructions throughout. The woman is certainly “partaking of the sea” as she roams along the beach, but she is also making gestures, articulating her thoughts and bringing them into being. This “rumpling” becomes part of the seascape, and the woman is simultaneously master of the night, and subordinated to it. Vendler writes: “The sense in which things belong to her and she belongs to other things shifts constantly… The litany of ‘of’s’ states syntactically what the poem states semantically—that everything can be part of everything else on an equal basis” (64). Thus, the woman’s thought is bound up in the world around her, and vice versa.


Recordings also found here.