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.