Notes on William Wordsworth's 4 poems: go.to/litgarden

William Wordsworth
"We Are Seven" The poem explores the relationship between the child and death. The cottage girl suggests many of the key images of Romantic poetry: the child, Nature, the idea of a rural environment, the suggestion of poverty. Note how in stanza 3 he suggests the mere appearance of the child makes him happy. The confusion over the number of brothers and sisters she has comes from the fact that the poet does not count the two children who have died (see lines 35-36). Yet, to the cottage girl, the fact that her brother and sister are dead does not matter - they still count as two of the "seven." It is interesting that at the end of the poem, the difference between the child and the adult is still strong. Death for adults is something that is final. Yet for the child, death is merely a different state. The poem reveals how the innocence of the child seems almost to conquer death.



"She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways" This poem, about a child called Lucy who has died, is of deep emotional importance to the poet. It seems that Lucy lived a very lonely life (see "A Maid whom there were none to praise/And very few to love"). Even the title of the poem ("Untrodden") suggests that no-one had been there before. This idea of "loneliness" is important to Wordsworth. Although he was not opposed to the company of people, he believed that being alone (solitude) allowed someone to become closer to Nature and the natural world - and, therefore, purer. The final stanza shows that this episode of Lucy's death has greatly affected Wordsworth.




"Three Years She Grew" This is another of the Lucy poems. The first stanza suggests that Nature looked at Lucy and thought that she was so perfect and beautiful that she (Nature) would reclaim Lucy. In the next five stanzas, Nature is talking. Nature describes how Lucy will live in what seems to be a kind of "heavenly" natural world, where she will see and experience the beauty of all things. The final stanza explains that once Nature has made this decision, Lucy dies and leaves the world of ordinary human beings. All the poet is left with are the sights and places where Lucy used to roam.




"Lucy Gray Or, Solitude" The poem describes a strange encounter in the wilderness with Lucy Gray, who is described as a "solitary child" (stanza 1). It seems that Lucy was supposed to travel home with her mother. Stanza 4 describes the terrible weather conditions - a storm to come, and snow on the ground. Stanza 8 explains that the storm came sooner than expected, and as a result Lucy is lost and is never found. The last three stanzas describe how an attempt to find Lucy was made, but her footprints just disappeared. It is as if Nature has snatched her away. Some people say that she is still to be seen in the wilderness, running around, singing her song, and whistling in the wind.


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