Charlotte Smith The Sea View

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The world is quilted through the eyes of the observer – each individual experience sheds light into his viewpoint of the world. Whether it is of negative or positive light, the vital aspect lies in that we see the world through a lens. And this lens is of utmost importance in Charlotte Smith’s ecopoetry. Fascinated by aesthetician and literary critic Edmund Burke’s aesthetic-psychological categories of the Sublime and the Beautiful and the natural world, Smith thoughtfully details how man has come to disturb the delicate balance of the Sublime and the Beautiful in nature through her use of an Italian rhetorical organization and a juxtaposition of details in her sonnet, “The Sea View.” Through her fascination, Smith develops an answer to Burke’s…show more content…
The initial octet sheds light onto the overwhelmingly Beautiful aspects of the natural world. She develops the sonnet through the eyes of the upland shepherd, who enjoys the beauty of the sea view. Up until line 9, despite the few Sublime attributes of nature, there is an overwhelmingly belief of a Beautiful quality to it. From the “soft turf” (2) to the feeling of “joy serene” (8) evoked, the reader grasps the idea that Smith is resonating a strong belief in the tranquility, the beauty, and the perfection of nature. She spends an entire octet describing and glorifying nature. However, the reader understands the balance Smith is protruding with her sudden shift in the Volta of the sonnet. Beginning with a dramatic “When, like the dark plague-spots…” (9), Smith opens the Volta in a fashion which completely juxtaposes the octet – a dark introduction to the Sublime aspects of the world. The spondaic meter in “dark plague-spots” (9) overwhelmingly supports her shift to from the Beautiful to the Sublime. She delves into the war-fare caused by man (11), the “mangled dead” (12), and how man “spoils Heaven’s glorious works with blood” (14). Characteristic of Italian sonnets, Smith shifts her topics, from the Beautiful to the Sublime, to reveal to the reader the effect man has…show more content…
Smith characterizes the summer-sun with a “purple radiance low” (5), but later calls that same sun a “Blaze” (6). She again juxtaposes nature when describing the mountains as a “soft turf” on a “brow” (2), but later as “Magnificent” (7). Here, we see Smith’s feminist answer to Burke’s characterization of what is Beautiful and what is Sublime. She doesn’t let nature be weak; she lets it be beautiful yet magnificent and stronger. She lets the descriptions of the Beautiful-details of nature be iambic meter, and lets the Sublime-details be trochaic – both “Blaze” (6) and “Magnificent” (7) appear with trochaic meter. Here, Smith is allowing the Sublime and the Beautiful to coexist – exist in a perfect balance within the same realm of nature. However, once we move into her details of pure Sublime, the reader can grasp Smith’s argument on humankinds’ influence. Smith discusses the “Demons shed” (9) and the “destructive fire” (12) with negative adjectives. Both “Demons” and “destructive” begin with an accent and both protrude the Sublime – fear and terror evoking elements. Smith is basically turning the traditional understanding of Sublime on its head and asking a great question: Why is darkness and death considered great? She shifts the Sublime from a traditional “fun terror” to just terror. Since the shepherd is just gazing at the terror, it is

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