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Miscellaneous Sonnets (page 3).
A group of Miscellaneous Sonnets was first published by Wordsworth in the "Poems in two volumes," 1807. In subsequent editions the number of Sonnets was increased, and the arrangement was altered. It seems to me evident that although these poems were written at various widely-parted times, they were finally arranged so as to illustrate one another, and form not indeed a linked chain of sonnets but a sequence as far as a sequence can be made from disconnected pieces by happy ordering. Let me try to show that this is the case with at least the thirty-six sonnets of Part I.
I. Prefatory Sonnet on the Sonnet: contentment in limitation.
II. The cottage of the poor; its beauty and happiness; contentment in limitation.
III. The native vale of the child; the child's content in limitation altered by growth to manhood.
IV. A little cottage, but glorified by Skiddaw and by the Muses.
V. The glory of Skiddaw and its streams, though unsung by the Muses.
VI. The glory of a little mountain stream sanctified by memory and the affections.
VII. A mountain lake, glorified even more by human love than by Fancy and the Muses.
VIII. Vale and mountain glorified by friendship and the art of music.
IX. Immortality conferred on the beauty of nature by a friend's art of painting.
X. True art springs from the human heart, and all external things are modified by human affections.
XI. Fancy and the Muse also deal with outward nature and add a grace and dignity to it.
XII., XIII., XIV.,three sonnets "To Sleep " stand unconnected with what precedes and serve as a resting-place.
XV. The simplicity of the life of nature; the cumbrous pride of the artificial life.
XVI. Walton ; the happiness of a life " nobly versed in simple discipline."
XVII. Dyer; the modesty and simplicity of his verse.
XVIII. "Peter Bell," a poem of nature, ill received in an artificial age.
XIX. Loss of cottage simplicity and its joys: the decay of spinning.
XX. Spinning—a lost art: intellectual pride of the age.
XXI. Pious use of the cottage fleece on Easter Sunday: contrast with these days of mechanical progress.
XXII. Decay of rustic piety: Easter and Christmas church-going.
XXIII. Piety of rural nuptials: love and religion united.
XXIV.-XXVI. Love and devotion have fitly led up to the sonnets translated from Michael Angelo, on mortal love leading to God.
XXVII. And here is a fitting place for the contemplation of Death.
XXVIII., XXIX. Beauty and repose in death a source of faith.
XXX. But there are glad childlike hearts untouched by great solemnities, yet pure and sacred: mystery of the sea.
XXXI. The "reverential fear" of the sea, connected with a ship setting forth.
XXXII. A ship singled out for love.
XXXIII. How few of these glories and mysteries of Nature are felt by us 1 The mystery and beauty of the sea.
XXXIV. The poets of Fashion contrasted with the poet of Nature.
XXXV. Ennui and misanthropy of the poet of worldlings; how true Imagination transmutes the sorrows of life.
XXXVI. Memorial Sonnet to Raisley Calvert, who enabled the author to live the life poetic.
The reader who follows and verifies the above analysis can hardly doubt that Wordsworth was studious to arrange his sonnets with a view to their mutual illustration. —ed.
"Happy the feeling from the bosom thrown " (page 3).
In the cottage, Town-end, Grasmere, one afternoon in 1801, my sister read to me the Sonnets of Milton. I had long been well acquainted with them, but I was particularly struck on that occasion by the dignified simplicity and majestic harmony that runs through most of them,— in character so totally different from the Italian, and still more so from Shakespeare's fine Sonnets. I took fire, if I may be allowed to say so, and produced three Sonnets the same afternoon, the first I ever wrote except an irregular one at schoo1. Of these three, the only one I distinctly remember is "I grieved for Buonaparte." One was never written down: the third, which was, 1 believe, preserved, I cannot particularise.—I. F.
Date uncertain; first published 1827. "To ", I believe, means "To Mary"; 1. 14, "mild content", suits her, and not Dorothy. For "chief of Friends" compare second poem "To Lycoris." The view of the sonnet here given harmonises with Wordsworth's practice which did not constantly insist on the presentation of two aspects of the thought or feeling in the octave and sestet. See the letter to Dyce in Wordsworth's "Memoirs," ii. 280: "Instead of looking at this composition as a piece of architecture, making a whole out of three parts, I have been much in the habit of preferring the image of an orbicular body—a sphere, or a dew-drop." Rossetti, on the other hand, in his sonnet on the sonnet, uses the image of a coin to illustrate the obverse and reverse of thought presented in the poem.
In 1. 8 " those moist gleams" occurs in 1838 only.
In 1827-1832 11. 9-14 were as follows:
"That tempted first to gather it. O chief
In 1838 11. 9-12 became:
—the sonnet in 1838 closing as now. The present text is a return in 1845 to the text of 1836.—Ed.
"Something less than joy, but more than dull content" (page 3). Countess Of Winchilsea.—W. W.
"Nuns fret not" (page 3).
Date uncertain: first published 1807.
In 1. 9 "forme;((1849)replacedtheearlier"tome." In 1. 14 "brief solace" (1827) replaced the earlier "short solace."—Ed.
Admonition (page 4).
Date uncertain; first published 1807.
L. 1 (1837); previously " Yes, there is holy pleasure in thine eye!"
L. 5, " forbear to sigh " (1827); previously "0 do not sigh."
L. 7 (1827); previously " Sighing a wish to tear from Nature's book."
L. 8, " precious leaf" (1827); previously " blissful leaf." "Harsh impiety " (1815), " worst impiety " (1807).
L. 9, " must be " (1827); previously " would be."
L. 14 (1838); previously " would melt, and melt away." —ed.
"Beloved Vale " (page 4).
Date uncertain; first published 1807. The Vale is probably that of Hawkshead.
L. 7 (1827); previously "Distress'd me; I look'd round, I shed no tears."
L. 8, "dread remembrance had I" (1837); "awful vision I had" ["had I" 1827], 1807-20.
L1. 9-11 (1827); previously—
"By thousand petty fancies I was cross'd To see the Trees, which I had thought so tall, Mere dwarfs; the Brooks so narrow, Fields so smal1."
At Applethwaite near Keswick (page 5). This place was presented to me by Sir George Beaumont with a view to the erection of a house upon it, for the sake of being near to Coleridge, then living, and likely to remain, at Greta Hall near Keswick. The severe necessities that prevented this arose from his domestic situation. This little property, with a considerable addition that still leaves it very small, lies beautifully upon the banks of a rill that gurgles down the side of Skiddaw, and the orchard and other parts of the grounds command a magnificent prospect of Derwent-water, and of the mountains of Borrowdale and Newlands. Many years ago I gave the place to my daughter.—I. F.
Written 1804; first published 1842. Text unchanged. —ed.
"Pelion and Ossa" (page 6).
Dated by Wordsworth 1801; first published 1815. I*. 12, " nobler" (1837); previously " fairer." L. 13 (1827); previously "His double-fronted head in higher clouds—Ed.
"There is a little unpretending rill" (page 6).
This rill trickles down the hill-side into Windermere, near Lowwood. My sister and I, on our first visit together to this part of the country, walked from Kendal, and we rested to refresh ourselves by the side of the lake where the streamlet falls into it. This sonnet was written some years after in recollection of that happy ramble, that most happy day and hour.—I. F.
Date uncertain; first published 1820. The little rill, as both Wordsworth and his wife informed the Rev. R. P. Graves, is that which "rising near High Skelgill at the back of Wansfell descends steeply down the hill-side, passes behind the house at Dovenest, and crossing beneath the road, enters the lake near the gate of the drive which leads up to Dovenest." The present text is of 1827; 11. 7-14 in 1820:
"Oftener than mightiest Floods, whose path is wrought