Anna Seward, "To Colebrooke Dale"

Anna Seward's poem "Sonnet. To Colebrooke Dale" illustrates a picture of a natural world that begins to break the poet's imaginative flow. We also see a distinct separation between the natural and the civilized world. This poem starts with the poet being inspired by the natural place and setting, this inspired vision is then interrupted by a "toiling barge and the swart Cyclops' ever-changing forge din in thy dells" (line 4-5). The romantic scene has been rudely interrupted by a loud sound which seems to be intruding physically into the landscape "shroud with columns large of black sulphureous smoke that spread their vales like funeral crape upon the sylvan robe of thy romantic rocks, pollute thy gales, and to stain thy glassy floods" (line 8-11). The poet has lost poetic inspiration, she has hit a block, which is difficult to surpass: the sound "breaks the poet's spell" (line 14). Miss Seward's poetry was known to adhere strictly to the Miltonic model of sonnets an Italian sonnet (composed of an octave and sestet rhyming abba abba cde cde) with out any pause, or volta, between octave and sestet. Seward uses enjambment to continue her thought from line to line. Examples of enjambment in the sonnet are at lines 4,5,8,10,12,13. The end of the poem links the entire piece together. The last lines of the poem reflect back to the disturbance of the natural world which first appeared at lines four and the reinforces that it is this disturbance which has interrupted the poet's inspiration or "the poet's spell" (line 14). One can sense in her "Sonnet. To Colebrooke Dale" a feeling of melancholy for nature which is being invaded by noise and civilization. The loss of nature in its natural form makes the poet lose her poetic ability to write.