“It is a beauteous Evening”
By William Wordsworth
It is a beauteous Evening, calm and free;
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
The gentleness of heaven is on the Sea;
Listen! The mighty Being is awake
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder―everlastinly.
Dear Child! Dear Girl! That walkest with me here,
If thou appear’st untouch’d by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year;
And worshipp’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.
“It is a beauteous Evening,” by William Wordsworth is a Petrarchan sonnet, and written in August of 1802. Wordsworth composed the sonnet on the beach near Calais. This sonnet emphasizes the individual communing with nature, and it is a natural setting at the seashore. Wordsworth paints this canvas with imagery and poetic skill. The Romantics considered communing with nature as being one with God; they saw God in nature.
This fourteen line sonnet is spontaneous, simplistic, and individualistic. The sonnet is about a beautiful yet free evening that is as quiet “As a nun.” The immense sun is admiring all that lies below yet is setting. The ocean waves are compared to the “Gentleness of heaven.” Wordsworth asks his daughter Caroline to “Listen!” In the sound of the eternal sea waves; God is found. The noise of the crashing waves “Sound like thunder,” and they are everlasting, like God. Wordsworth asks the “Dear child,” who is innocent, and therefore, closer to divinity to “Listen!”. The child lies in “Abraham’s bosom;” Abraham’s bosom is Christ’s description of the resting place for heaven bound souls (Luke 16.22). The child worships at the “Temples inner shrine,” which is nature. God is with Caroline “When [she] know it not.”
The rhyming scheme is ABBAACCA in the octave, which is the first eight lines. The volta occurs at the end of line eight, which states “A sound like thundereverlastingly,” and beginning of line nine, which asks, “Dear Child! dear Girl!” The sestet, final six lines, rhyming scheme is DEFDFE. The sonnet is written in iambic pentameter, but there are variations in line three, which start with a trochaic reversal, iamb, iamb, anapest, and single spondee. The poet wished to highlight the breathlessness of nature and the “Broad sun.” Line five consists of all iambs, except for the last foot which is an anapest, and highlights the gentleness “On the sea.” Line six starts with a trochaic reversal, and the poet is asking the reader to “Listen!” Line twelve consists of an iamb, iamb, iamb, trochee, trochee, and single spondee. The variation is highlighting the “Bosom all the year.”