Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Poetry - William Wordsworth

Another of the 1802 sonnets. As I'm about to start reading Maureen Sabine's Veiled Desires, about the portrayal of nuns in the movies, this sonnet caught my eye. It's not really about nuns. Wordsworth just uses the metaphor of nuns in their cells to describe the pleasure the poet feels at conforming to the strict form of the sonnet. Writing a sonnet rather than an epic must be like a writer producing a short story rather than a novel. Different challenges & requirements but just as satisfying to the reader or writer in the right mood.

Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at this loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, into which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, ’twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.


  1. Do you know the quote "Art lives from constraints, dies from freedom"? It seems pertinent here. I can't find out who said it, though. My book of quotations doesn't have it in and the Internet, as usual, has a number of different suggestions as to the original thinker.

    1. I don't know the quote but it does seem relevant. Most of the best artists have had to struggle, haven't they?