Sunday, April 15, 2007

It Is a Beauteous Evening -- a National Poetry Month post

Today is decidedly a yucky weather day here, so I'm hoping tonight will be better. It put me in mind of a Wordsworth poem:

It Is a Beauteous Evening

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
The gentleness of heaven broods o'er the Sea:
Listen! the might Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder -- everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.

For those of you who've been reading along lately, I'll pose a question: Do you recognize the form?

If you said "sonnet," then give yourself a nice pat on the back. You are correct. Fourteen lines, end rhyme and iambic pentameter give it away. But it's a weird one -- a "nonce" poem, in the same way that Frost's The Oven Bird is.

In the case of the Wordsworth sonnet, it starts out looking like an Italian/Petrarchan sonnet:
ABBA. But in the second half of the octave, he skews it -- instead of ABBA (again), he goes to ACCA. And then, in the closing sestet, he departs from any of the traditional rhyme schemes for the ending (DEFDEF, DFDFEE, DFDFDF,DFEEFD) and goes DEFDFE.

It makes the rhyme scheme less obvious, of course, when you move it around semi-unpredictably like that. Now, maybe Wordsworth moved the rhyme around because he couldn't say what he wanted otherwise, or maybe he made a conscious choice to half-bury the rhyme.

For those of you interested in back story, this is a good poem. The poem was written shortly after Wordsworth decided to visit his former mistress, a French woman, with whom he had a 10-year old daughter he'd not seen before. It is believed that this poem was about time spent walking with his daughter.

I hope you all have a beauteous evening.

1 comment:

Sanket Korgaonkar said...

I love this poem - thanks for posting. Great work by the way. I am a writer too - you might enjoy a visit to:


- Sanket