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To compare the form of the poems “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” and “Written at the Close of Spring,” I will examine each piece’s rhythmic progression. Both the Wordsworth poem and the Smith poem share an iambic pattern; every even-numbered syllable in each line is stressed, while the odd is unstressed: “I WAN-dered LONE-ly AS a CLOUD,” and “the GAR-lands FADE that SPRING so LATE-ly WOVE.” The chief point of contrast here is that the former has four stressed syllables and, because it is a sonnet, the latter has five, respectively called iambic tetrameter and pentameter. However, though both pieces are so closely related through their rhythmic patterns, each creates a totally different feeling with said patterns, and the reason for this relates somewhat to the rhythmic progression of music.
Scrutinize the rhythm of any song with four beats per measure. The piece flows naturally from one measure to the next; the progression is easy and soothing, harmonic, all is right with the world. Now, do the same for a piece with five beats per measure. (This may be harder as, with good reason, music like this is far less common.) After each measure, the piece seems to stop in its tracks before continuing; it is stilted, difficult and perhaps somewhat harsh on the ears when carefully examined. Finally, consider how this relates to the progression of the above poems. The Wordsworth poem flows naturalistically through each line because it has only four “beats” per line. In contrast, the Smith poem causes the reader to pause between each line due to its five “beats” per line. Thus is created two unique feelings: one flowing, one stilted. The symbolic nature of these feelings as they relate to the subject matter is a topic for another debate.
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