It Is a Beauteous Evening

by William Wordsworth

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 298

In William Wordsworth's sonnet "It is a Beauteous Evening," there are two human characters: the girl that Wordsworth refers to as "dear child" and the narrator of the poem, who we presume to be Wordsworth, who walks with her. Since it largely creates the poem's atmosphere and since the poet gives it the qualities of a living being, we should refer to the "beauteous evening" as a character as well.

At the beginning of the sonnet, Wordsworth describes the sun going down on what had been a beautiful day and contrasts the tranquil sky, "as quiet as a nun," with the "eternal motion" of the sea's crashing waves. As he states: "the mighty Being is awake."

This mighty being is not violent or sinister; rather, it is so divine and godlike the speaker finds it difficult to believe that it does not have the same effect on the child as it does on him. Unlike him, he says she is "untouched by solemn thought," carrying on as usual. The poet is not saying this to criticize the child's attitude. As he states, "Thy nature is not therefore less divine." In fact, in many ways it is because, unlike an adult, she instinctively feels nature and feels a part of it. She has no need to contemplate its beauty because she forms part of its beauty.

In the last three lines, he states:

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.
The girl in the poem is actually his nine-year-old daughter Caroline, whom he had with his French mistress, Anette Vallon. According to some sources, he would have married Vallon if it hadn't been for the tensions and conflict between France and England.

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