William Wordsworth was born in northern England in 1770. The timing of his birth was impeccable, coinciding with international events. While he was enrolled at the University of Cambridge, he frequently visited France. During wartime, he was unable to return to England. When he finally returned to England in 1802, he had already begun to write some of his five hundred sonnets. His journey from revolutionary France to inert England provided an interesting perspective apparent in his sonnets. Wordsworth expressed love for the past with a passion for modernity.
Wordsworth wrote all of his sonnets in the Petrarchan sonnet form. The Petrarchan sonnet, named for the Italian poet Petrarch, is composed of fourteen lines, divided in two sections: the octave and sestet. The octave is the first eight lines, and the sestet contains the last six lines. The rhyme scheme can be varied, a technique Wordsworth employed throughout his sonnets.
The general rhyme scheme for the octet is ABBAABBA. The sestet rhyme scheme has several acceptable possibilities like BCBCBC, CDECDE, CDCDCD, and CDCDEE.
In the sonnet "Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802", Wordsworth was enchanted by London's beauty. David Ferry notes that London appears attractive because it is least like itself at the moment (43). The ugliness of the city is repressed, leaving only its beauty exhibited. The idleness of the scene acts as the repressor and leaves calmness to soothe the speaker of the sonnet. Landmasses and buildings are observed to demonstrate this idle beauty in these lines from the sonnet:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theaters, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky. (4-7)
Wordsworth, in his sonnet "London, 1802", criticizes the culture of London and yearns for...