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Discuss how the sonnet form has been used to effect the sonnet, "Composed upon...

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rsrmlagh | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 3, 2008 at 5:00 PM via web

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Discuss how the sonnet form has been used to effect the sonnet, "Composed upon Westminster Bridge."

its an essay for school. im very stuck and would like some help. i've never been good at writing essays and this is a hard one, especially when i haven't done anything on sonnets before. :(

PLEASE HELP

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 4, 2008 at 1:20 AM (Answer #1)

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There are two basic types of sonnets:  English (two divisions here include Shakespearian and Spenserian) and Italian (Petrarchan).  The types are named for the most famous authors, William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser for the English and the Italian poet, Petrarch.  The rhyme schemes differ from each author, but the line groupings for the English are 3 groups of 4 lines (quatrains) and a couplet; for the Italian, 1 group of 8 lines (octave) and 1 group of 6 lines (sestet).  All sonnets have 14 lines.

This sonnet is an Italian sonnet.  Every sonnet introduces a problem or situation, discusses the problem/situation and then solves the problem or makes a final comment.  There is usually a TURN between the problem and the solution, which I like to call "the big BUT".  The Turn is usually made obvious by a transition word like "but, yet, so" to let you know that there is a change of mood, feeling, tone, or idea.  For instance, "All of time and energy is spent on loving this woman. She resists me, BUT I will continue to love her."

In Wordsworth's poem, the turn is not after the octave like usual Italian sonnets.  It occurs in the sestet between lines 10 and 11, so it's not as obvious to the reader.  True to his style, Wordsworth uses simple language to make the poem flow like every day conversation even within the confines of rigid sonnet format.

Focus on the images and line breaks for your analysis.

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