Carefully Read the Poem Simon Lee by William Wordsworth (Romantic Writings: an Anthology Pp.60-63). Write an Essay of Not More Than 1,500 Words in Which You Analyse the Poem and Comment on the Poetic Form and Language

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 560
  • Published: March 2, 2010
Read full document
Text Preview
Simon Lee the Old Huntsman is a poem which occurs in Lyrical Ballads and was written in 1798, belonging, thus, temporally to the Romantic period (1780-1830). Romantic writing is commonly identified with some key elements, which concern imagination, nature, symbolism and myth (although there have been writers of this period who were not as ‘mainstream’). William Wordsworth has been characterised as a canonical author of Romantic Poetry in that his work is highly attached to the notion of Nature and plenty of reference is made to it. Approaching a piece of literary work, however, from this perspective is very restraining, therefore, in this essay we will attempt a ‘social’ or ‘historical’ kind of approach. We shall try to ‘read’ the idealistic language found in the poem as social or historical discourse through the poetic techniques employed by the writer. In other words, we will analyse the way various elements of poetic form and language combine to create meaning and effects. Simon Lee is about an old huntsman who, while was once strong and active, now strives to fight his declined health and strength. The poem recounts an actual encounter of the poet with this old man. It seems to be a hybrid of lyric and narrative (a lyrical ballad). Lyric in that we have a first-person expression of emotion and concentration upon the actions and feelings of an individual at a particular moment, while narrative, since there is a narrator and another character, whom the former encounters and, later, describes. There are 12 stanzas of eight lines each with a rhyme scheme of ABABCDED that causes the lines to flow smoothly. The first stanza of the poem introduces us with Simon and sets the scene: ‘In the sweet shire of Cardigan’. It is obvious from the beginning that Wordsworth is dealing with a matter from common life, since every reader is familiar with and can picture a sweet shire, the same way the notion of ‘pleasant’ is easy to grasp. Furthermore, a series of modest, plain adjectives that evoke sadness are used to describe Simon: ‘old man’, ‘a little man’, who ‘once was tall’ making it clear that the ‘hero’ of the poem is just a humble, ordinary old man. Nature, Wordsworth argued, can save people from the alienation, frustration and triviality of contemporary urban life. It seems to me that by choosing to start the poem placing the readers in a rural area away from urban life, he seeks to evoke feelings opposed to the ones mentioned above, those that are for him connected with away-from-nature settings. The second stanza is, I consider, somewhat tragic, since two totally contradictory adjectives- ‘poor’ and ‘merry’- are used to describe this same person only in two different periods of his life: in the past and present. In this way, the winding down of Simon’s life over the years becomes even more intense to the reader. The rhyming couple ‘has he/ see’ in Lines 1 and 3 of the second stanza is known as poetic inversion. Wordsworth has inverted the word order for the sake of the sound sense of the verse as well as of the rhythm, both of which would have been different if he had used ‘he has’. Perhaps any other choice would have made the rhyme pattern less unfussy than it is now, and complication is what he has tried to avoid throughout the whole poem. The easy rhymes ‘merry/cherry’, ‘sound/round’, ‘sick/thick’, ‘door/poor’ are also justified by this theory. The metaphor ‘like a cherry’ is directly derived from the ‘diction’ of Nature and can be easily comprehended and pictured by the majority of the common population-especially in rural areas. In the fourth stanza the retrospection stops and Simon is no longer in the prime of his life. He is no longer healthy, rather he is ‘poor old Simon Lee’ again, who ‘has no son’, ‘has no child’, he only has ‘an aged woman’ and they both live ‘upon the village common’. Simon Lee is again transformed into the old man that was presented to us in the first stanza and the poetic inversion of...
tracking img