William Wordsworth is a revered romantic poet who believed that the meaning of romanticism is best illustrated when using everyday life events and familiar speech. Wordsworths explicit love of nature and mastery of the language allowed him to bring such emotion and power into each poem without the use of sophisticated words, which he believes takes away the effect of what is trying to be said. His intentions were such that any man capable of reading, well educated or not, could feel these emotions and fully understand his projected messages. He drops to the earth, for once, all that matter-of-factness of which Coleridge complained (Internet Bartleby). (Coleridge did not look to nature the way Wordsworth did).Wordsworth best shows his love of nature throughout his renowned Lucy Poems. In these poems Lucy is considered a child of nature. She is pure like the earth and has been cared for by nature since her tenderest years, Nature vowed to make her a Lady of her own (Bartleby). Wordsworth seems to believe that her death was an act of fate, with Nature being so in love with her that it had to take her back from the Earth. Nature serves as a vitalizing, inspiring force in all Wordsworths works. According to Wordsworth People are at their best when close to the splendor and mystery of nature. (Internet Anonymous 1 )
The attitude toward Nature in the literature of any age may be tested in two ways: by what is said, and by what is left unsaid, and of these the second is perhaps the more significant (Reynolds 7). The omitted information of the identity and age, and the realization of Lucy has puzzled critics since the publications of these Lucy Poems. Perhaps this is what has kept readers so interested and critics so baffled. She is thought to be Wordsworths fantasy or his lover, and to some she is believed to be a relative who he held very close to his heart.
He (Wordsworth) believed that it was especially in the language of nature that man could know ultimate truths. These truths coexist both in the human mind and in the depth of things, but rarely become knowable in direct intuition.(Perkins 92)
The mind of man is naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting properties of nature (Stallknecht 46). Every man has some knowledge of nature, so every man should be able to interpret what Wordsworth is saying. However, it is the way the mind works and the difference in interpretations that is interesting.One Critic claimed: She may be linked to the wild boy of Tintern Abbey, who was lost when the narrator left Nature and childhood to become an adult (Internet Anonymous 2 ).
Her morality is the more significant, since it brings together two irreconcilable ideas Lucys beauty and the ineluctable fact of her death, all the more unthinkable if it should take place in her youth (Beer 96).
Whatever the relation or age, his love for Lucy shows so vividly throughout each of these poems that the reader can feel it. Lucy is construed as many different people and objects, but only Wordsworth will know the true identity.
Lucy Gray, Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known, She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways, I Traveled Among Unknown Men, Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower, and A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal are the six poems known as The Lucy Poems. A process seemed to arise as the poems were read in order of their publications. Starting from the night of her assumed death, Wordsworth gives a description of her life. He writes on who she was up to his opinion of her reason for death. He then expresses his reactions to the passing of his beloved Lucy. How can one properly describe the death of a young girl who has lived close to the genius of nature? (Beer 95)
Many critics have analyzed these poems, and many of the same conclusions have come to arise. Wordsworth brings nature from the Earth to the Heavens in his poem She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways.
A critic, Bateson , remarks that he sees Lucy as a violet hidden from the public world, and the single star represents her importance in the private world. Beer reacts to Batesons thoughts by adding that he believes that the landscape created by these two objects is that of Wordsworths new universe of life. The flower represents human affection and tenderness for the particular, and the star focuses on the human imagination and the wondering of perception. He believed that Lucy possessed the qualities of both: her growth in the flesh portrays the organic harmony of a flowers growth, while her own inward light gives her the quality of a star (Beer 95-6). Geoffrey Hartman a renowned critic added that he believed that when people amount to nothing in the eyes of the world, they become their own world in each others eyes (Hartman 43).
Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known, this poem is highly significant in its portrayal of the senses and emotion and how he ties this into nature. From the very beginning Strange Fits of passion Have I Known to the very last lines, Oh mercy! to myself I cried, If Lucy should be dead! Wordsworth also heightens the feeling of emotion in the narrative technique he uses. His language is plain, which leaves more room for the reader to concentrate on content rather than style. Because his poem is very emotional, it seems obvious that this poem be about love. His love seen in this poem is not only described in the descriptions of the lover but also in descriptions of nature. As in most of Wordsworths work nature is an established part of his style. His love for the outdoors and all things natural shows here with references to a rose in June, and the evening moon. Symbols of death are paramount to the poem with words showing sadness and mourning such as the moon descended, and the planet dropped, as though nature fears with him. The poem is written in past tense and so the fear of gloom and death are prominent. Many believe Lucys the moon going down represents death, but in reality the moon returns every night. Poets added moonlight to their poems to instill the thoughts of mystery, since darkness has a premonition of fear (Reynolds 23). Many believe that since this is true, Wordsworth is talking about a ghost.
Lucys identity mirrors that of a ghost in all but one poem (Lucy Gray) in the way she makes her exit, always with an immediate sense of nonexistence. Her reflection through forests and the moon (the indicator of Lucys presence) indicate an alignment with nature, and departure with men. (Cunningham)
One could link Lucy with Lucy Gray, his poem, where according to superstition, Lucy died in the midst of nature, but her spirit as been seen there. However, Wordsworth did not believe in writing about the supernatural, so once again the identity remains unknown.
In the study of the evolution of the love of nature three stages have come about. The third stage is based on the cosmic sense, or the unity between man and nature. The second stage is recognized as the world around us and its beauty and worthiness of close study. In the first stage nature deals with human actions and passions (Reynolds 27-8). Wordsworth has touched each of these stages in the Lucy Poems. Most poetry relies on the first stage, but because of Wordsworths creative ability he brings in every stage and shows how Lucy resembles each. This truly makes Lucy Natures Child.
Anonymous 1. 15 Jan. 1997. Gatech Inc. 31 Oct. 2000
Anonymous 2. 17 Jan. 1997. Gatech Inc. 31 Oct. 2000
Bartleby. 2000. Bartleby Inc. 31 Oct. 2000
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