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   English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
413. The Sonnet
 
William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
 
I

NUNS fret not at their convent’s narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
  And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,        5
  High as the highest peak of Furness-fells,
  Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, unto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
  In sundry moods, ’twas pastime to be bound        10
  Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
  Should find brief solace there, as I have found.
 
II

SCORN not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frown’d,
        15
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
  Shakespeare unlock’d his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch’s wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
  With it Cam˜ens sooth’d an exile’s grief;        20
  The Sonnet glitter’d a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crown’d
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
  It cheer’d mild Spenser, call’d from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp        25
  Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!
 

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