William Wordsworth published this Petrarchan sonnet in 1807. In a somewhat self-reflexive manner, the poem describes the usefulness of the poetic form, which may appear overly limiting by its strict rules and structure. Instead, the poem argues that constraint may be a liberating rather than a restrictive path.
Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room;
And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;
Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, into which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, ’twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.
- How do you understand the line, "In truth the prison, into which we doom Ourselves, no prison is"?
- What do you think Wordsworth means by the "weight of too much liberty"?
- How does this poem negotiate freedom and law?