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Analysis of Wordsworth’s Surprised by Joy

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Length: 1879 words (5.4 double-spaced pages)
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 Analysis of Wordsworth’s Surprised by Joy    

 
Death, like ink dropped in a glass of water, taints one's perception of life by coloring every experience with a sad shade of grief. In his poem, "Surprised by Joy," William Wordsworth relates how a moment of joy caused him to remember the death of his four-year-old daughter, Catharine. The memory effectively crushed any positive feelings he had during his encounter with joy and replaced them with quilt and sadness. This sonnet, though Italian in rhyme scheme, abandons the typical conflict-to-resolution form of argument for one which begins with the desired end-result and progresses towards the heart of the problem. Throughout the sonnet, Wordsworth shifts from expressing raw emotions of joy and grief, to realizing his loss, and finally, to accepting her death on a very removed and intellectual level. This originality of sonnet form combines with carefully placed sound effects to express the intense grief that embitters Wordsworth's experience of joy.

The first quatrain opens with Wordsworth's moment of joy and his eagernes...


... middle of paper ...


... x   x     /     /       x   /     x  /    x   /

Was the | worst pang | that sor | row ev | er bore,

x   /   ||  /  x    x ||  /    x   /      x  /

Save one, | one on | ly, when | I stood | forlorn,

/  x     x    /        x     /     x    /     x  /

Knowing | my heart's | best trea | sure was | no more;

  x   /      x    /     x   /       x    /     x  /

That nei | ther pres | ent time, | nor years | unborn

x     /    x  /        x    /     x   /      x  /

Could to | my sight | that heav'n| ly face | restore.

 

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