Celebrating Poetry In April: 30. The World Is Too Much With Us, William Wordsworth

Hello, everyone.

Well, we are at our end. 30 days of sonnets celebrating National Poetry Month brings us to my favorite sonnet that I’ve been using in my classrooms and citing in my writing for decades. I’m happy to end this journey by sharing William Wordsworth’s “The World Is Too Much With Us.”

As I say in the preface of the reading, I’ve been so honored to share these sonnets with you. And if I have learned anything (but I have learned so much in these 30 days), it is that the emotions, thoughts, and reflections that we have today are not unique to the generations and centuries of individuals who have faced their own tragedies, hopes, and triumphs. Universally, we have love to get us through, even when it can break our heart. Universally, we have each other to lean on, when the world just gets too much. And universally, we have hope in getting through our greatest challenges together, both in the words and strength of our friends and loved ones in the present, and in the whispered words shouted to us through poetry from those long past.

Thank you for enduring these daily posts. 🙂 Here’s to poetry, and here’s to you. ❤

as always………………………vw

The World Is Too Much With Us, by William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Celebrating Poetry in April: 25. Life and Death, by Cosmo Monkhouse

Welcome to day 25 of National Poetry Month. Tonight I am featuring a British poet of the Victorian era, William Cosmo Monkhouse, who was also an art critic in his prime. This sonnet, in the Petrarchan form, personifies Life and Death.

Enjoy! 🙂

Life and Death, by William Cosmo Monkhouse

From morn to eve they struggled–Life and Death.
At first it seemed to me that they in mirth
Contended, and as foes of equal worth,
So firm their feet, so undisturbed their breath.
But when the sharp red sun cut through its sheath
Of western clouds, I saw the brown arms’ girth
Tighten and bear that radiant form to earth,
And suddenly both fell upon the heath.
And then the wonder came–for when I fled
To where these great antagonists down fell
I could not find the body that I sought,
And when and where it went I could not tell,
One only form was left of those who fought,
The long dark form of Death–and it was dead.

Celebrating Poetry in April: 22. “Grasshopper and Cricket” by Mary Russell Mitford

Happy Earth Day, to all. I remember turning the earth 50 years ago with my 5-year-old classmates as we planted little saplings at our elementary school. Now, 50 years later, I look back and savor the many hours I have spent on trails and shores, appreciating the earth. So much of my writing is inspired by the Earth.

I selected today’s sonnet with our earth in mind. It’s a variation of our familiar Petrarchan form, and written by English and romantic author Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855). The poem it titled, simply, “Grasshopper and Cricket.”

Grasshopper and Cricket, by Mary Russell Mitford

How oft, amid the heaped and bedded hay,
Under the oak’s broad shadow deep and strong,
Have we sat listening to the noon-day song
(If song it were), monotonously gay,
Which crept along the field, the summer lay
Of the grasshopper. Summer is come in pride
Of fruit and flower, garlanded as a bride,
And crowned with corn, and graced with length of day:

But cold is come with her.
We sit not now
Listening that merry music of the earth,
Like Arid beneath the blossomed bough;
But all for chillness round the social hearth
We cluster.–Hark! a sound of kindred mirth
Echoes! O wintry cricket, welcome thou!

Celebrating Poetry in April: 18. The Sonnet by Maggie Bruner

Good afternoon! For today’s sonnet, I’ve selected American poet Maggie Bruner, who was born in 1886 and died in 1971. This is, I believe, the only sonnet she published. It is a simple statement of love for cats and how that love transcends life on this earth.

Without further ado, “Sonnet,” by Maggie Bruner.

The Sonnet, by Maggie Bruner

There have been many cats I loved and lost,
And most of them were of the mongrel breed;
Stray felines have a mighty power to plead,
Especially when chilled by snow and frost.
No matter if by cares I am engrossed,
Somehow I feel that I should intercede,
They seem so much like human folk in need–
Like waifs by winds of hardship roughly tossed.

I think that I should not be satisfied
In heaven with harps and wings and streets of gold,
If I should hear by chance a noise outside
Like some lost kitten crying in the cold,–
How could Saint Peter think my act a sin
If I should tiptoe out and let it in?

Celebrating Poetry in April: 17. The Woods by Fanny Kemble

Good evening, all. It was absolutely wonderful to reconnect with my students this week. I am so glad that we are back in session as we venture to the end of the school year together.

Tonight’s sonnet is by the British poet and actress Fanny Kemble. It’s a love sonnet (of course), and it celebrates a love with nature that we all can appreciate.

Without further ado, “The Woods,” by Fanny Kemble.

The Woods

Cover me with your everlasting arms,–
Ye guardian giants of this solitude!–
From the ill-sight of men, and from the rude
Tumultuous din of yon wild world’s alarms!
Oh, knit your mighty limbs around, above,
And close me in for ever! let me dwell
With the wood spirits, in the darkest spell
That ever with your verdant locks ye wove.

The air is full of countless voices, joined
In one eternal hymn; the whispering wind,
The shuddering leaves, the hidden water springs,
The work-song of the bees, whose honeyed wings
Hang in the golden tresses of the lime,
Or buried lie in purple beds of thyme.

 

Celebrating Poetry in April: 15. “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Greetings, all: Today’s sonnet was written by Emma Lazarus, an American author and poet who lived from 1849 to 1887. It’s a famous one, for sure, as a few of its lines are inscribed on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty, and they have been cited frequently by individuals fighting for the rights of others who have been suppressed or marginalized.

Without further ado, “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus.

THE NEW COLOSSUS by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.”
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Celebrating Poetry in April: 14. Renouncement by Alice Meynell

Good afternoon, all! Today’s sonnet is by Alice Meynell, a British poet who lived from 1847-1922. This poem, “Renouncement,” is in traditional Petrarchan form and captures the bridge between love and religion for Alice, as she recuperated from illness and pondered life in the Catholic Church.

Without further ado… Renouncement, by Alice Meynell.

Renouncement

I must not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
I shun the thought that lurks in all delight–
The thought of thee–and in the blue Heaven’s height,
And in the sweetest passage of a song.
Oh, just beyond the fairest thoughts that throng
This breast, the thought of thee waits, hidden yet bright;
But it must never, never come in sight;
I must stop short of thee the whole day long.
But when sleep comes to close each difficult day,
When night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
And all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
Must doff my will as raiment laid away,–
With the first dream that comes with the first sleep
I run, I run, I am gathered to thy heart.

Celebrating Poetry In April: 11. Lady Mary Wroth

Good evening, all:

Tonight, I am reading a sonnet by the English poet Lady Mary Wroth of the Renaissance era. She was born in 1587 and died in 1653. This particular sonnet, “Forbear Dark Night, My Joys Now Bud Again,” follows the Petrarchan form.

as always……………rvw

 

“Forbear dark night, my joys now bud again”

Forbear dark night, my joys now bud again,
Lately grown dead, while cold aspects did chill
The root at heart, and my chief hope quite kill,
And thunders struck me in my pleasures’ wane

Then I alas with bitter sobs, and pain,
Privately groan’d, my Fortunes present ill;
All light of comfort dimm’d, woes in prides fill,
With strange increase of grief, I griev’d in vain.

And most, when as a memory too good
Molested me, which still as witness stood,
Of those best days, in former time I knew:

Late gone as wonders past, like the great Snow,
Melted and wasted, with what, change must know:
Now back the life comes where as once it grew.

 

Celebrating Poetry in April: 10. John Donne’s Sonnet IV from the Divine Meditations

Good evening, all:

Tonight’s sonnet is from John Donne, an English poet (1572-1631) who was dubbed a “metaphysical poet” for his use of conceit, a rather disjointed, but extended analogy used in his poetry.

This is Sonnet IV of his collection of 19 sonnets titled the Divine Meditations or Holy Sonnets. These were published posthumously, though he composed all of them between 1609 and 1610.

Most of the sonnets in this collection follow the Petrarchan structure.

Without further ado…. Sonnet IV by John Donne.

Celebrating Poetry in April: 9. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet XVIII

Happy Thursday, everyone.

Today is April 9th of National Poetry Month, and I’ve decided to return to the sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning; I’ve selected Sonnet XVIII for today’s reading.

I like the parallels with Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, as well as William Faulkner’s “A Rose For Emily.” Elizabeth’s sonnet, however, zooms in on the loss of innocence associated with the lock of hair. This is most certainly one of those sonnets that, upon returning ten times to it, you will find 20 new interpretations and meanings to Elizabeth’s carefully selected words.

Without Further Ado: Sonnet XVIII by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.