Divinity in It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free
During the late 17th and early 18th centuries the style of poetry changed drastically. Poets shifted their focus away from the audience and concentrated on the internal self. This created the expressive, lyric poetry we now recognize as typical of Romanticism. William Wordsworth is one of the most famous of the Romantics, as well as author of "It Is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free." Written in 1807 after a trip to France to visit his daughter, "It Is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free" focuses on Wordsworth's view of nature and childhood as essentially divine.
Written as a Petrarchan sonnet, "It Is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free" can be divided into two parts, an octet and a sestet. The octet introduces the reader to Wordsworth's pantheistic view of nature. His reference to "the mighty Being" (6) may be interpreted as: God, nature, or God manifested throughout nature, which exemplifies pantheism. Divinity is evident in God, and in nature through three main qualities: power, eternity and perfection. In "It Is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free", nature is described as being "breathless with adoration." (3) This suggests that nature possesses underlying energy and power. Further along in the poem, the Being makes "a sound like thunder" (8), another symbol of strength and power. One of the most important features of a divine being is eternal existence. Wordsworth describes nature as being in "eternal motion" (7); it is constantly changing and evolving. A third quality essential to divinity is absolute perfection. One scene in the poem depicts the sun sinking from the heavens down into the sea. Wordsworth creates an image of such harmony and perfection; it is hard to question the divine essence of nature.
In the sestet, Wordsworth switches the focus from the divinity of nature to the divinity of childhood. Although Wordsworth is addressing his...