“To My Books”
“To My Books”, a sonnet by Caroline Norton, (1808-1877) describes books as faithful friends who “never alter or foresake”, they are also mentioned as a form of escapism. In this sonnet, the poet describes her intimate feelings towards “her books”, as if she were writing a love letter to them.
The sonnet is constructed out of three quatrains and a final couplet. The first quatrain describes the author’s strong friendship with her books, using words like “Silent companions” and “friends”. In the second quatrain something seems to have disturbed the poet and she seems to seek comfort in her books in order to forget her “worldly cares”. The third quatrain expresses the poet’s familiarity with her books, how she can relate to them, and uses words like “the audible echo of my own”, and “My native language”, to emphasise these points. During the final couplet the poet concludes the sonnet by refering to her books, “unripe musings”.
The poem uses a typical rhyme pattern of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, a structure which is used in many other sonnets, and works in a subtle yet effective way, especially when read aloud, contributing to the atmosphere and reader’s interest.
The sonnet is made up of a variety of Caesura’s which break up the structure and flow of the poem for a brief pause. One example of a caesura, can be found on the fourth line of the second quatrain:
A poet called Petrarch developed the sonnet form in Italy. It is a poem made up of 14 lines of iambic pentameter. An Italian rhyme scheme is ABBA ABBA in the first octave. The sestet can be CDC DCD which was the original scheme, or CDE CDE. The sonnet was brought to England by Sir Thomas Wyatt and The Earl of Surrey who visited Italy during the Renaissance. Sonnets were originally wrote in Latin ...
“Refresh my mind with many a tranquil thought : Till, haply meeting there, from time to time,”
On the first line of the second quatrain, there is use of a caesura which is immediatly followed by an enjambment:
“Let me return to you ; this turmoil ending Which worldly cares have in my spirit wrought,”
The use of the enjambment here, allows the poem to run on and keeps the poem flowing.
The sonnet also consists of several words from the 18th century such as, “perforce”, “O’er”, “haply”, and “Twill”, which are no longer used in modern literature, however, seems to add to the antiquity of the poem.