Most sweet it is with unuplifted eyes

My sonnet project was about the poem The World Is Too Much With Us, by Williams Wordsworth, and I’ve found his poetry to be absolutely wonderful. So of course, when I checked my email this morning and found this little jewel as the poem-of-the day, I got really happy (plus it’s a sonnet!). Here you go:

Most Sweet It Is With Unuplifted Eyes

Most sweet it is with unuplifted eyes
To pace the ground, if path be there or none,
While a fair region round the traveller lies
Which he forbears again to look upon;
Pleased rather with some soft ideal scene,
The work of Fancy, or some happy tone
Of meditation, slipping in between
The beauty coming and the beauty gone.

If Thought and Love desert us from that day,
Let us break off all commerce with the Muse:
With Thought and Love companions of our way,
Whate’er the senses take or may refuse,
The Mind’s internal heaven shall shed her dews
Of inspiration on the humblest lay.

With 14 lines and mostly iambic pentameter, the poem is obviously a sonnet, in this case, a Petrarchan sonnet, as it follows the ABAB CDCD EFEFFE. Like most of Wordsworth’s poetry, this poem explores man’s relationships with nature, as well as the desire to understand the human mind and soul and highlights shift from rationalism to viewing the world through the lenses of emotions, nature and the imagination, characteristic of the Romantic Period. The only instances were iambic pentameter breaks are in lines 10 and 13. In line 13, “let us” is a trochee, and just so happens to break iambic pentameter before Wordsworth calls for us to “break off commerce with the muse.” Line 13, which has 11 syllables, reflects Wordsworth’s idea that the mind is not to be confined by facts and reality, or in this case, the common 10-syllable meter characteristic of a sonnet.

The poem begins with a traveller pacing around a path, looking at the fair, green region surrounding him. As he looks again at the same spot, his imagination recreates the scene as “soft [and] ideal.” With unuplifted eyes, the speaker is able to notice that which is around him — nature — and not focus on the callings of greed and desire, and draw inspiration from that. The line between reality and illusion becomes blurred, with “beauty coming and beauty going.” It is this tone of wonder and serenity that defines the first octet of the poem, where the poet recognizes the greatness of the mind and soul combined with emotions and sense.

The volta occurs betweens 8 and 9, and the second sestet takes on a more decisive tone as the poet vows to “break off all commerce with the Muse” should it ever occur that thought and love — among the two most integral ideas to the Romantic-era individual — leave them, and thus, cause them to lose their inspiration and purpose in life. For without those two elements, the outside world lacks luster, and no longer contains the appeal for him to either reflect or analyze this life. Wordsworth lauds the beauty inherent within nature, and stresses the importance of the relationships between imagination, emotions and nature with the soul.


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