Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 14: No 2) >> ''Dazzling Outlawries of the Imagination'': William Gilmore Simms and the ''Americanism'' of the Sonnet >> Page 11

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 11

Secondary Scholarship | 2006
Transcription elements within the stanza which relate to the Italian. The brace rhyme in
lines 2-5, for example, is reminiscent of the opening quatrain of the Italian

By yon sacred isle we pass;
Know we not if still she sleeps,
Where the wind such whisper keeps,
In yon waving grass!

The opening lines of the second stanza likewise harken back to the sonnet
tradition, reminiscent as they are of the sestet. Of course, here we are only
given half of the sestet, as we only find half an octave in the previous stanza

Silently!- still silently!
Oh! methinks, if it were true,
If, indeed, she sleeps-

But such prosodic echoes, or fragments of echoes, are not enough to
suggest that this poem is a response of an extension of the sonnet form. In
order to find the most striking proof of the poem's lineage, we must turn to the
final stanza:

Then no more should lovely things,
Moon or star, or zephyr, stoop,-
But a cloud with dusky wings,
Gloom outgiving, still should droop,
O'er that islet lone:
And the long grass by the breeze
Sullen rising from the seas,
Should make constant moan!
Silent!- Hark!- that dipping oar,-
Oh! methinks, it roused a tone
As of one upon the shore!-
-'Twas the wind that swept the grass!-
Silently, oh! silently,-
As the sacred spot we pass!

As in "Ballad," Simms has used rhyme to indicate a structural division after
the eighth line. Unlike the structure of "Ballad," however, Simms uses both
the Italian and English models to create his octave, which follows the rhyme
scheme ababcddc.. The last six lines of the stanza (the sestet) follow the
rhyme scheme ecefgf. The end stop at the end of the eighth line also suggests
a division into octave and sestet, a traditional feature found in the volta or