Discuss similarities and differences between these poems and give a personal response
The two Wordsworth sonnets I have chosen are ‘It is a beauteous evening..’ and ‘The world is too much with us..’. I chose these because of their similarities in theme. Primarily I will discuss the content and theme of all poems individually. Starting with ‘Michael’, and later the two remaining sonnets.
‘Michael’ is a long narrative poem, using blank verse. The main theme is that the city corrupts the character of people who visit it from the country. Michael and early Luke, Michael’s son, portray the innocence of country folk. But when Luke is forced to go to leave, to repay a relation debt, he goes to the city, while there he partakes in illegal activity and is forced into exile. The poem explains that while in the country you are closer to nature, the closer to nature you are the closer to God you are.
Wordsworth wrote about a man called Michael, who was a hill farmer in the Lake Districts. Michael was essentially a good man, but there was nothing really special about him. When Wordsworth wrote the poem at the beginning of the nineteenth century it was the beginning of the Romantic Movement. Before this poems were often written about noble people such as Kings and lords. Wordsworth believed that Michael’s life was just as interesting and noble as any other man. And his tragedy is worth writing about, even though it’s not on the scale of Macbeth or similar literature, it is sad and important enough to be written about.
Wordsworth uses blank verse in ‘Michael’. This style is very rhythmic and regular, getting the reader to read it simply and plainly. Wordsworth was a very skilled man while writing, using many literary tricks. Enjambment is often used,
“With a few sheep and kite
That overhead that overhead are sailing the sky”
This particular use of enjambment is used to symbolise the kite gliding through the air, gracefully. Similes are rarely used, when used they include themes and subjects not related to the story itself, but including it gives an extra theme or dimension to think of while reading, you can think of personal parallels between the poems theme and the simile’s included theme. E.g. “Like the noise of distant bagpipers on distant highland hills”. This simile brings a rustic country life into the poem, it also gives some geographical information, which is, they are fairly close to Scotland. Similes can often also in-directly describe the atmosphere. The lonely sound of the bagpipes, bellowing out sound for miles of solemn mountains surrounding it. The repetition of ‘heart’ in this poem is very important, it is said five or more times, its used because of its implications, a heart is the sign for love, love for nature, and Michaels love for Luke. “…around the boisterous brook”, this is an example of alliteration, its here to present to the ear the sound of the brook bubbling, and boisterously flowing down the hillside.
One of the main themes in the story is religion. And, when Luke is young he is closer to nature and so God, than Michael is, but as he grows older, and leaves for the city, he gets more and more aware of money, greed, lust and so on, he gets more and more corrupted, and further and further away from nature and God. In this poem nature and God are portrayed to be one and the same, using a capital letter for nature suggests its importance, “…yet having felt the power of Nature”. When talking of the power and beauty of nature I believe it is talking of the power of God. The names Michael and Luke are Biblical, also words like ‘covenant’ instead of contract are used. Which adds a religious dimension to the agreement about the building of the sheepfold.
Symbolism is used often in the poem, such as the ‘oak’, the oak is obviously a part of nature, after the house has gone, and all memories of the occupants disappeared, the tree remains, nature moves on “The cottage was named the ‘Evening Star’ is gone- the ploughshare has been through the ground on which it stood; great changes have been wrought in all the neighbourhood: – yet the oak is left…”. The sheepfold is also a strong symbol. When nature prevails with the tree, the sheepfold does not, the stones are there but man does not triumph, since the sheepfold, despite all efforts was never completed “…and the remain of the unfinished sheep-fold may be seen…”.
The poem is narrative, the persona of the author comments on events, and describes them, as he wants. Dialogue is scarcely used, but it does appear more and more by the end, “Thou must go”. The dialogue is used so we can hear them, when reading their exact words our imagination pictures them. Wordsworth has given Michael a noble voice; the words used are not affected by dialect. “Nay, don’t take it so, I see that these are thing I need not speak”. There is an example of interior monologue, strangely by Isabel, who does not appear much in this poem, I believe this monologue is there to introduce her point of view, and fears. “There’s Richard Bateman” she thought to herself.
I believe this poem to be a very effective one, portraying its view through the means of a short story. Wordsworth’s range of literary skills is made obvious. They add to the interest and enjoyment for the reader. Yet I don’t agree. I’m sure that city goers are just as close to God as farmers are, some even closer, but one thing I do agree with, praying in an old stone church in a beautiful green valley is much nicer than praying in a dark brick chapel, in the middle of the smog of London. Not because I believe a valley is closer to God than a London street, but because of the peacefulness of the valley, it’s quiet there. Which gives you more opportunity to pray.
Next I will discuss “Tis a beauteous evening…” It’s a sonnet. A sonnet has clearly defined rules. It has fourteen lines, an octave and a sestet. There are ten syllables in each line. There is a rhyme pattern, but poets vary this.
The theme in this sonnet is of a young girl, who is walking the coast with Wordsworth’s persona. They look out over the sea, and the natural world. It’s beautiful, and even though Wordsworth’s persona appreciates it more, and thanked God for it, he still thought that the young girl is closer to God than he.
‘Beauteous’, is an archaic word, and probably was the day Wordsworth wrote it, he used it because of the romance attached to it. ‘Beauteous’, it sounds so calm and loving. The next two adjectives reinforce this; they being ‘calm’ and ‘free’. In the second line the holy dimension is introduced for the first time, using an adjective, which is ‘holy’ and a noun, ‘nun’. Again reinforcing the calmness is the word ‘quiet’. The man is ‘breathless with adoration’ at the beauty of the view. There is an use of enjambment here, “…broad sun,
is sinking down in it’s tranquillity”. This is used because the sun will sink regardless, it is constantly there, the sun will always rise and fall on earth. Repeatedly the calm atmosphere is strengthened, using ‘tranquillity’. The emphasis is now shifted from sight to sound. Starting the line with ‘listen’. With sound a strong theme arises; nature is everlasting, people die, ho uses crumble, and cars break down, but nature prevails. This theme is introduced through the form of the sea. Which is personified by “…the mighty being…”, it’s continued existence is displayed by the words ‘eternal’ and ‘everlastingly’. Here is the Volta, again changing the emphasis, from the view to the child, this major shift in emphasis is purposely put here, since in after Volta the story is given, in the octave the situation is described. In this line we find out the child is a female child, it explains even though the child doesn’t think of God, “Untouched by solemn thought”, it doesn’t mean that she is therefore less ‘divine’.