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Full fathom five

Posted by Gary on April 25, 2003

In Reply to: Full fathom five posted by Brian from Shawnee on April 25, 2003

: I just ran across the phrase "full fathom five", meaning something like "completely sunk into despair". I like the sound of it.

: I took a look in the archives here but all I could find were two discussions about "sea-change". Apparently the phrases "full fathom five" and "sea-change" were spoken by Ariel in The Tempest.

: But does anyone know the origina of "full fathom five"? Is it from The Tempest originally?

This is Ariel's song from The Tempest:

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell

Whether it originated with Shakespeare I don't know, although it seems likely.