6/23/2019

Critical appreciation of "It is a beauteous evening, calm and free".



"It is a beauteous evening, calm and free" is a sonnet by William Wordsworth written at Calais in August 1802. It was first published in the collection Poems in Two Volumes in 1807, appearing as the nineteenth poem in a section entitled Miscellaneous Sonnets.

It is a personal poem of William Wordsworth. Wordsworth had entered into a relationship with Annette Vallon, while visiting France
during the Revolution in the 1790s. He could not marry her because the war between England and France separated them. However, a child, Caroline was born of this union in 1792. Wordsworth was able to return to visit Annette Vallon during the brief Peace of Amiens in 1802 and was able to see his daughter for the first time. At that time Caroline was a nine-year-old girl. This poem is thought to have originated from a real moment in Wordsworth's life, when he walked on the beach with his nine-year old daughter.

In the poem, the poet spiritualizes nature and glorifies childhood. On a beautiful evening, the poet thinks that the time is "quiet as a Nun," and as the sun sinks down on the horizon, "the gentleness of heaven broods o'er the sea." The sound of the ocean makes the speaker think that "the mighty Being is awake," and, with his eternal motion, raising an everlasting "sound like thunder." The speaker then addresses the young girl ana praises her natural beauty. He says that she has a divine nature and she is close to nature. She has a childlike faith in nature, and is connected to God. In fact, she "liest in Abraham's bosom all year," because God is with her even when she is not aware of Him.

The poem is a Petrarchan sonnet with a slight variation. The Petrarchan sonnet is divided into two units: octave, the first eight lines and the sestet, the last six lines. In a Petrarchan sonnet one main idea is established in the octave and the idea is developed in the sestet. The octave of "It is a beauteous evening calm and free" establishes a close contact between the nature and God. In the sestet the poet realizes that the child has a divine nature. She is close to divinity, just like the Holy priest of the Temple in Jerusalem. Thus the sestet brings the whole theme, established in the octave, to a satisfactory end.

The rhyme scheme of the octave of the Petrarchan sonnet is usually abba abba. But in this poem, Wordsworth uses abba acca as the rhyme scheme of the octave. The traditional rhyme scheme of the sestet of the Petrarchan sonnet is cdedec but Wordsworth departe from the traditional rhyme scheme for the sestet and uses def dfe.

The sonnet is written in iambic pentameter. When Wordsworth wrote this poem, he used language that was like everyday language. Now, two hundred years later, the words and especially the word order seem old fashioned: 'Thou', 'beauteous', 'o'er', 'walkest', liest'. In the poem he uses several figures of speech such as simile, metaphor, assonance, consonance and apostrophe. The tone of the poem is serious and respectful.

Thus “It is a beauteous evening, calm and free” is an English adaptation of Petrarchan sonnet in which the personal experiences and interests of the poet are vividly expressed.

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