“Scorn Not the Sonnet; Critic, You Have Frowned” by William Wordsworth
Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch’s wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
With it Camöens soothed an exile’s grief;
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!
Today is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, so I wanted to post something in honor of the writer who has inspired so many throughout the years. Rather than post my thoughts on one of Shakespeare’s works, I decided to share this sonnet by Wordsworth.
In this sonnet, Wordsworth defends the poetic form of the sonnet against attacks from critics. It seems that even back then, artists hated critics. Anyway, Wordsworth provides examples of poets who used the sonnet as a vehicle to express themselves, and as such it is not surprising that Shakespeare is first among those mentioned.
Shakespeare wrote a total of 154 sonnets, and they express emotion in such a way that 400 years after his death, we still connect with his words. The cadence and rhythm resonate with our deeper selves, and each sonnet is nothing short of a perfect fourteen-line view into the heart of Shakespeare.