Thursday, March 31, 2011

William Beckford's Elegaic Sonnet to a Mopstick

On first reading the title of the poem, I thought it would be satirical. The title of the work begins with the lofty and promising words "Elegiac Sonnet.." and comes crashing down to a common household object " a Mopstick." The poem however elegantly discusses the mop as a discarded remnant of the magnificent tree it once used to be. In the poem, the author uses this image to discuss his fear of loss or ruin of his love.

The words used to describe the tree the mop was made from are all chosen to be grand and majestic. The author uses "twinkling" and "dancing" to describe the tree. These words almost sound mystical and unattainable now that the mop is just a mop and no longer part of that natural world. The words used to describe the mop on the other hand seem weak and belittling. The mop described as "stripped" and "a poor stick". Once removed from the state it was meant to be in, the mop has little meaning or importance in the world.

The author goes on to parallel the situation of the mop with his own life. There is a volta in the middle of the poem in which the author comes to realize that it is the relevance to his own life that makes him pity the mop. The author states that he would be just as pitiful and lost as the mopstick if ever Philisto broke his vow and left him. After this realization, he is saddened at the possibility of losing everything and becoming separated from the thing that connects him to the world.

The last line "and my sad thoughts, while I behold thee twirled, turn on the twistings of this troublous world" ties the concept back to the initial observation of a mopstick. As the author sees this mop being used as it was never supposed to be used, his thoughts turn to all of the dark possibilities of the world. The author begins to consider all of the things that could turn his life sour. This is unique for a sonnet which usually concern hope or want for love. This sonnet instead has love, but doesn't trust the world to let that love remain.

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