Modernism was a unique period for poetry. During this period, poets began writing more poems more freely with less boundaries like specific stanzas or rhyme patterns for example. E.J. Pratt's "The shark" is a perfect example of the early stages of modernism in poetry.
The modernism era began during World War I, so most of the popular poems during this time were about war, or somehow had a hidden meaning about war. Although E.J. Pratt's "The Shark" seems like it is simply about a shark, there are many deeper meaning considering the rough times through war the Pratt had grown up in. The use of a shark as imagery is perfect because although it looks calm, underneath is a beast capable of great destruction. In the poem, he writes about how the shark swims "leisurely" and how it had "stirred not a bubble" somewhat indicating that the war has ended, peace has been attained and things have calmed down. The tone of this stanza is quiet, even though the image of a shark scares people instantly, the stanza is calm and not violent. Representing the end of the war. However, it does not matter how relaxed everything seems, it is still a shark and dangers are still present. Further in the poem we see the shark becoming more aggressive as he snaps at a dead fish, thus proving to readers that even though the scene was relaxed, danger is always near. At the end of the second stanza is where the the images of death, danger and terror are most obvious. As it snaps at the dead fish, the thought of possible danger and terror could be a real life scenario in fear that there might be a second world war. Through the poem, Pratt foretells that the peace after WWI will soon break.