534. The Sonnet

William Wordsworth. 1770-1850

SCORN not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frown'd,
  Mindless of its just honours; with this key
  Shakespeare unlock'd his heart; the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound;
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;
  With it Camöens sooth'd an exile's grief;
  The Sonnet glitter'd a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante crown'd
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
  It cheer'd mild Spenser, call'd from Faery-land
To struggle through dark ways; and when a damp
  Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains--alas, too few!

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition