A Century of Sonnets: The Romantic-Era Revival 1750-1850

By Paula R. Feldman; Daniel Robinson | Go to book overview
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201. 'The veil's removed, the gaudy, flimsy veil'

The veil's removed, the gaudy, flimsy veil,
That shrouded thy false heart, and now I see,
With friendship pure, it never beat for me.
Fool! that I was, to listen to the tale.
Well, be it so—this pleasure must prevail,
Though at thy falsehood much my heart has grieved,
Thou canst not say, I e'er thy hopes deceived.
This still my solace; should all others fail,
What now remains of life I will employ
In bliss less fragile; Nature's charms sublime,
Her hills and woodlands wild, reechoing joy,
Her blushing spring, and summer's flowery prime,
Though winter for awhile her sweets destroy,
They still return, on wings of faithful time.


William Wordsworth

Over the course of roughly fifty years, Wordsworth wrote well over 500
sonnets. His first published poem was a sonnet and his sonnet sequence The
River Duddon
was among the most successful and admired works he ever
published. Many of his best sonnets appeared in Poems, In Two Volumes (1807).
While Wordsworth evidently admired the sonnets of Charlotte Smith, Anna
Seward, and Helen Maria Williams, his poetic allegiance lay most strongly
with Milton.Wordsworth's prodigious output of sonnets demonstrates a re-
markable variety of subjects and concerns, ranging from the political to the
personal to the philosophical to the topographical. He succeeded Robert
Southey as poet laureate in 1843.

202. On Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams Weep at a Tale of Distress

She wept—Life's purple tide began to flow
In languid streams through every thrilling vein;
Dim were my swimming eyes—my pulse beat slow,
And my full heart was swelled to dear delicious pain.
Life left my loaded heart, and closing eye;
A sigh recalled the wand'rer to my breast;
Dear was the pulse of life, and dear the sigh
That called the wand'rer home, and home to rest.
That tear proclaims—in thee each virtue dwells,
And bright will shine in misery's midnight hour;
As the soft star of dewy evening tells
What radiant fires were drowned by day's malignant power


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