The first recorded instance of “sea change” was in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, when Ariel, a magical spirit, tauntingly sings about the apparent drowning of Prince Ferdinand’s father, King Alonso of Naples:
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
In this original usage, the “sea-change” becomes “something rich and strange,” as bones become coral and eyes become pearls. Our colleague, Professor David Currell, explains that this metaphorical allusion “transforms a mental image of death into a glittering...