Surprised By Joy Essay, Research Paper
Surprised by joy — impatient as the Wind (a )
I turned to share the transport–Oh! with whom (b)
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb, (b )
That spot which no vicissitude can find?( a)
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind (a )
But how could I forget thee? Through what power, (c )
Even for the least division of an hour, (c )
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind (a)
To my most grievous loss?–That thought’s return (d)
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore, (e )
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn, (d)
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more; (e )
That neither present time, nor years unborn (d )
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore. (e )
Wordsworth claimed the sonnet “Surprised by Joy” was written “by my daughter Catherine, long after her death” (qtd. in Peacock 375). Catherine, who died in 1812 at the age of three. The sonnet, “Surprised by Joy”, was included in Wordsworth s Miscellaneous Sonnets, an anthology of short poems (Peacock 375).
Analysis of “Surprised by Joy”
The sonnet opens with a deep inner joy but one that demands sharing with one another, the speaker turns to “share the transport” (Wordsworth 298).”Surprised by joy – impatient as the wind” (298) shows a shift in feelings. Quickly, the speaker is aware of a tremendous loss and of the mortality of the world beyond.
Love brings the image of Catherine to his mind, but the power has beguiled as to make the speaker- “blind / To my most grievous loss.” (298). This sudden emotion has caught the speaker off guard. – ” worst pang that sorrow ever bore, / Save one,” He feels more sorrow with the memory of the actual day she died. “Knowing my heart s best treasure was no more” (298). In this state, the speaker turns to philosophy. “That neither present time, nor years unborn/ Could to my sight that heavenly face restore” (298).
Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth, which is now in Cumbria. His mother died in 1778, and his father died in 1783. Relatives provided for his education. Wordsworth entered Cambridge University in 1787, the year he wrote his first significant poem. During a summer vacation in 1790, he visited France, then in turmoil because of the French Revolution. After graduating from Cambridge, in 1791, he returned to France and became a supporter of the revolution. He returned to England in December 1792.
Wordsworth met Coleridge about 1795, and the two wrote Lyrical Ballads. It appeared in 1798. Most of its poems are Wordsworth s, including his famous “Tintern Abbey” (Mahoney 241).
Wordsworth married Mary Hutchinson in 1802. They had five children. Wordsworth was deeply saddened by the death of his brother, John, in 1805. His sadness was reflected in his poem “Elegiac Stanzas Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle”.
In 1806, Wordsworth completed one of the most famous poems in English literature, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality.” In this piece, Wordsworth praises childhood and urges individuals to rely on their intuition (Mahoney 254).
Wordsworth s masterpiece is his long autobiographical poem, The Prelude: Growth of a Poet’s Mind. He wrote it between 1798 and 1805, but it was not published until 1850. Wordsworth wrote most of his best poetry before 1807. All-in-all he wrote 523 sonnets, and many of them compare with the works of Shakespeare and Milton (Mahoney 173). Queen Victoria honored him in 1843 when she appointed him poet laureate. Wordsworth died in 1850.
Mahoney, John L. William Wordsworth A Poetic Life. New York. Fordham University Press. 1997
Peacock, Markham L. The Critical Opinions of William Wordsworth. New York. Octogon Books. 1969.
Wordsworth, William “Surprised by Joy”. The Norton Anthology of British Literature Abrams et al. Seventh Edition Volume II. New York . Norton 2000.