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Full fathom five

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on April 25, 2003

In Reply to: Full fathom five posted by Bob 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.

: : Thanks, but I was hoping that someone might know the significance of "five fathoms". For example most of us would grasp "six feet under" as a typical burial depth for a deceased person. Could this be a typical depth for someone sent to Davy Jones' Locker?

: The alliteration makes it memorable and poetic, but five fathoms (30 feet) deep was, in the days before scuba gear, impossibly, irretrievably, lost.

Thank you, gentlemen!