Wordsworth and Milton, Sonnets and poems.

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Poetry Coursework

        Sonnets are poems that have fourteen lines that usually have a recognized rhyming scheme.  A sonnet generally has two sections; with the first section normally having eight lines and the second section having six.  The rhythm in each line of the sonnet can also apply with sonnet traditions and the syllables (which is counted in feet) can define which tradition it is – French, Italian or English.  Sonnets were commonly written in the sixteenth to eighteenth century and often written to express emotions of happiness, sadness, and love or written for someone in particular by request.  I have chosen to study three of William Wordsworth’s sonnets and one by John Milton.  The poems I am going to study by William Wordsworth are: ‘Composed Upon Westminster Bridge’, ‘To Lady Fitzgerald, In her Seventieth Year’ and ‘Composed On a May Morning’.  I have chosen to study John Milton’s ‘Sonnet to the Nightingale’.

        ‘Composed Upon a May Morning’ is Wordsworth’s view of London from Westminster Bridge.  It was written in the early morning when not many people were around and the city seemed ‘asleep’.  The poet writes what he saw – “Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie...Open unto the fields, and to the sky;”.  In ‘Composed On a May Morning’ Wordsworth again describes what he sees, but in this poem it is early on a May morning, in the countryside, watching the surrounding nature.  In ‘To Lady Fitzgerald, In Her Seventieth Year’ Wordsworth writes about a lady turning seventy and how she is “beautiful” for her age.  He uses rich language to express her expression and nature, giving the reader an image of the seventy year old.  Milton’s ‘Sonnet to the Nightingale’ is about a nightingale bird and how its singing reminds him of love “...Lover’s heart dost fill,”.

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        Both Wordsworth and Milton have used archaic language in their poems; Milton has used old English more distinctively and has actually started with “O” in the ‘Sonnet to the Nightingale’.  He has also used language such as “yon”, “dost”, “thy”, “ere”, “nigh”, “thou”, “hast”, “had’st” and “thee”.  Milton has filled this poem richly with archaic language which distinguishes the period of time in which he had written the poem.  Wordsworth has used archaic language more in some poems than others.  ‘Composed Upon Westminster Bridge’ has very few archaic words, but he has used “doth”, “Ne’er” and “glideth”.  In this poem ...

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