Gloss from the Variorum Shakespeare:
"STEEVENS: The meaning is, everything about him that is liable to alteration is changed. PHILLIPOTTS: Compare this with the passage in Rich. III: I,iv,26, describing the bottom of the sea, with its 'Heaps of pearl, Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels, All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea. Some lay in dead men's skulls; and in the holes Where eyes did once inhabit they were crept, As 't were in scorn of eyes, reflecting gems,' and notice the happy way in which the tragedy contrasts the relics of mortality with the lost treasure, while the lighter drama fuses them into all that is most lovely and pure in nature."
These notes offer a number of interesting points. First, by suggesting that everything on Alonso that is susceptible to alteration is changed, there is the inherent suggestion that there are parts of Alonso that are inalterable. While Ariel's song does not give us clear clues about what these parts of Alonso might be, this leaves a window in a text which might be read as a statement of the inevitability of all things to return to nature, to the possibility of something eternal like a soul, or the living memory of Alonso within his son.
The comparison drawn to the description in Richard III is also telling. While Ariel's description of Alonso's transformed body is full of images that make the scene more present, the passage from Richard III works to make the bodies useless and foreign, and untransformed next to the valuable treasures. This comparison allows us to see Ariel's song as somewhat charitable, depicting Alonso's death as a conduit for the creation of valuables rather than a contrast to it.
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