William Wordsworth’s It Is a Beauteous Evening Summary & Analysis

william wordsworth
william wordsworth

It Is a Beauteous Evening Summary


“It is a Beauteous Evening” is a poem by William Wordsworth that describes an idyllic scene. The poet shares an intimate moment with his daughter, a very domestic and intimate poem, more so than the majority of his works.


This piece of poetry is much less figurative than many other pieces of poetry, as it describes a beautiful evening with frank sincerity, and the poet expresses his awe and wonder at the natural beauty he experiences there. He begins by stating that it is a calm, quiet evening, beautiful and free. He states that it is “quiet as a nun,” meaning that this dusk hour is tranquil and acts as a perfect backdrop for the majesty they experience.


The sun is setting, casting a golden light over the ocean and the beach on which the two walk. Wordsworth is in awe of the beauty and reflects on the mighty Being—the Sea, which crashes eternally, thundering against the coast. This setting puts awe in his heart, and he is amazed by the incredible beauty around him.


What is most striking, however, to the poet, is his daughter’s lack of wonder at the beautiful scenery. He states that she seems unaffected by the incredible scene before them; she is instead wrapped up in inner thought. Being a young girl of only nine or ten, she is less amazed by the sights, although she surely enjoys the beautiful scenery of the beach and sunset. Wordsworth states that, though she is unaffected, she is no less “divine,” meaning she is not flawed in any way; it is simply her youth and lack of understanding of the nature of creation and the inherent beauty therein that causes her not to look on in awe at the scene before them. Nonetheless, Wordsworth cherishes this moment dearly.


It Is a Beauteous Evening Analysis


“It Is a Beauteous Evening,” written by William Wordsworth, is a poem that captures the power of a tranquil moment in nature.


Heavy in the importance of elements of nature, the poem captures Wordsworth’s Romantic focus that pervades his poetry. The poem focuses on a simple moment in walking by the ocean with a child (who is assumed to be Wordsworth’s own daughter, whom he had not seen in a decade). Therefore, the poem also is thought to capture an actual moment from Wordsworth’s life instead of an imaginary moment via a fictitious narrator. Wordsworth describes the calming influence of the sea and likens it to a “holy time.” Because the child with him is so innocent in her thoughts, she is also part of God’s wonderfully divine nature. Wordsworth’s description of the sea, the child, and the evening itself as being part of a holy experience shows the Romanticism that is woven throughout much of his poetry.


william wordsworth
William Wordsworth


Religious imagery and terminology are used throughout the poem. The evening is described as being “quiet as a Nun,” a simile that reinforces the pious beauty of Wordsworth’s experience on this evening. He notes that the “heaven broods o’er the Sea,” choosing to focus on God’s creation in the use of “heaven” instead of “sky.” He gives a poetic nod to the Creator’s power in being able to create eternal thunder via the tide that relentlessly beats on the shore, an “eternal motion” of wonder. And because the child is so innocent in her thoughts, she “liest in Abraham’s bosom all year,” noting that God is with her even when she is not aware of it.


The poem is written as a Petrarchan sonnet, dividing into 8 lines that describe the sea itself, followed by 6 lines that focus on the child who accompanies him. The rhyme pattern of the first 8 lines is ABBAACCA. In the second half of the stanza, the focus switches to the child, and the rhyme pattern changes to DEFDFE. Perhaps this interesting, almost-not-a-pattern in the end reflects a bit of a struggle that Wordsworth has had in connecting with his daughter in real life. Clearly he appreciates her innocence and beauty, but he hasn’t been able to be with her for many years; his rhythm with her is a bit off.


“It Is a Beauteous Evening” uses a tranquil tone to convey the calming and awe-inspiring power of reflective time in nature.