'"Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind"' by William Wordsworth

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Surprised by joy — impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport--Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind--
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?--That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind: A Literary Criticism

Oh boy, where do I even start with this one? Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind is a classic poem written by none other than William Wordsworth, one of the most influential poets of the Romantic era. This particular poem is a sonnet, which means it has a very specific structure and rhyme scheme. But that's not what I want to talk about today. No sir, I want to dive deep into the meaning and interpretation of this beautiful piece of literature. Are you ready? Let's go!


First things first, let's set the stage. Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind was written by Wordsworth in 1815, a year after the death of his daughter, Caroline. This event had a profound impact on Wordsworth, and it is believed that this poem was his way of coping with his grief. It was originally published in the collection "Poems in Two Volumes" in 1807, but was revised and republished in 1815. Okay, now that we have a little context, let's get into the poem itself.


The poem starts off with the speaker expressing his joy at the sight of a beautiful rainbow. He says that he was "surprised by joy" and that his happiness was "impatient as the wind". This is a pretty straightforward beginning, but it sets the tone for the rest of the poem. We can already tell that the speaker is very emotional and that he is experiencing a lot of intense feelings.

The second quatrain of the poem is where things get a little more complicated. The speaker starts to reflect on the fact that his joy was fleeting, and that it quickly turned to sorrow. He says that his heart "leapt up" when he saw the rainbow, but that it also "fell" when the rainbow disappeared. This is a very powerful image, and it really captures the sense of loss and pain that Wordsworth must have been feeling after his daughter's death.

The third quatrain of the poem is where the speaker starts to make some interesting connections. He says that his experience of joy and sorrow reminds him of his daughter, and that he wishes he could be with her again. He says that he feels like he is "a man driven to madness by fierce despair". This is a really powerful line, and it shows just how much Wordsworth was struggling with his grief. He seems to be saying that his daughter's death has driven him to the brink of insanity.

The final couplet of the poem is where the speaker reaches some sort of resolution. He says that he will "take comfort from my joy in strife" and that he will "turn to her again". This is a really hopeful ending, and it suggests that the speaker has found some way to cope with his grief. He seems to be saying that even though his daughter is gone, he can still find comfort in the memories of her and in the joy that he experienced when she was alive.


So, what does all of this mean? Well, like any good poem, Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Here are a few possible interpretations:


In conclusion, Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind is a truly beautiful poem that explores some of the most fundamental human emotions. It is a testament to Wordsworth's skill as a poet that he was able to capture the complexity and intensity of grief in such a short and powerful piece of literature. Whether you interpret the poem as a reflection on the transience of joy, the power of memory, or the human experience of grief, there is no denying the deep emotional impact of this work.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind: A Masterpiece by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth, one of the greatest poets of the Romantic era, wrote a plethora of poems that have stood the test of time. Among his most famous works is "Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind," a poem that captures the essence of grief, loss, and the fleeting nature of happiness. In this article, we will delve into the depths of this masterpiece and explore its themes, structure, and literary devices.

The poem begins with the speaker describing a moment of joy that he experiences unexpectedly. He is "surprised by joy" and compares his feelings to the wind, which is "impatient" and fleeting. The joy he feels is so intense that he is momentarily transported to a state of pure happiness, where he forgets all his sorrows and troubles. However, this moment of bliss is short-lived, and he is soon reminded of his loss.

The speaker then reveals that the joy he experienced was triggered by the memory of his daughter, who had passed away. He describes how he was walking in the countryside, enjoying the beauty of nature, when he suddenly remembered his daughter. The memory of her brought him immense joy, but it was quickly followed by a sense of grief and longing. He realizes that he can never be truly happy again, as his daughter is no longer with him.

The poem's central theme is the transience of happiness and the inevitability of loss. The speaker experiences a moment of joy, but it is fleeting, and he is soon reminded of his loss. He realizes that happiness is not a permanent state and that it can be taken away at any moment. This realization is a common theme in Wordsworth's poetry, where he often explores the idea of the fleeting nature of happiness and the inevitability of change.

The poem's structure is also worth noting. It is written in iambic tetrameter, with a rhyme scheme of ABABCC. The use of rhyme and meter gives the poem a musical quality and makes it easy to read aloud. The repetition of the "o" sound in "joy" and "impatient" creates a sense of urgency and emphasizes the fleeting nature of happiness.

The poem also employs several literary devices, including imagery, metaphor, and allusion. The use of imagery is particularly effective in creating a vivid picture of the speaker's surroundings. Wordsworth describes the "daffodils" and "butterflies" that he sees in the countryside, which adds to the poem's overall sense of beauty and tranquility. The metaphor of the wind as a symbol of fleeting happiness is also powerful, as it emphasizes the idea that happiness is not a permanent state.

The poem's allusion to Christianity is also worth noting. The title of the poem is a reference to a passage in the Bible, where St. Paul is "surprised by joy" on the road to Damascus. The speaker's experience of joy is similar to St. Paul's, as both are unexpected and transformative. However, the speaker's joy is short-lived, while St. Paul's leads to a lifelong commitment to Christianity.

In conclusion, "Surprised by Joy--Impatient as the Wind" is a masterpiece of Romantic poetry that explores the themes of grief, loss, and the fleeting nature of happiness. The poem's structure, literary devices, and allusions all contribute to its overall impact, making it a timeless work of art. Wordsworth's ability to capture the essence of human emotion and experience is what makes him one of the greatest poets of all time, and this poem is a testament to his genius.

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