Scorn Not The Sonnet: Poem - Summary & Analysis

Also Read

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just: honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarqh’s wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
Camoens soothed with it an exile’s grief;
The sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned
His visionary brow; a glow-warm lamp,
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet, whence he blew Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!


      The Sonnet, Scorn Not The Sonnet, was first published in 1827. The date of composition is not known, but it is said to have been composed almost extempore in a short walk on the western side of Rydal Lake. For his inspiration, Wordsworth went back to Milton. Like Milton Wordsworth was drawn to the form by its capacities for prophetic, uplifted and indignant utterance. Like Milton too he avoided the love-sonnet, though he wrote one Why art thou silent? to prove that he could, if he thought fit’, write in a strain that poets have been fond of. “But while for Milton the sonnet-form was too narrow for the spacious freedom of his poetic energy, to Wordsworth.

“Twas pastime to be bound
Within the sonnet’s scanty plot of ground”.

      Wordsworth used it far more freely than Milton and for more varied purposes. He has left more than five hundred sonnets—ruminative mystic, political, ecclesiastical, patriotic, descriptive, occasional, topical and miscellaneous. Only in those sonnets which utter his magnanimous patriotism, his dauntless passion for English liberty, his burning sympathy with the oppressed, the holy glee of his hatred of tyranny, is to be heard a distinct echo of the poet who first “gave the sonnet’s notes to glory”. The rest have Wordsworth’s individual color and hue, tune and tone. Says Bailey: “He is a greater master of the sonnet than Milton; the greatest on the whole that England has known”.

Previous Post Next Post