Lucy Poems

Topics: William Wordsworth, She dwelt among the untrodden ways, Samuel Taylor Coleridge Pages: 5 (1715 words) Published: October 31, 2013
Lucy poems

Lucy poems are the 5 different poems written by WW between 1798 and 1801. They belong to the second edition of ‘’Lyrical Ballads’’, which is a collection of both Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s poems. Lucy poems are lyrical ballads, they are written in verse and they all tell a story as briefly as possible. Wordsworth wrote them in the simple language of common people and he often used dramatic changes of states and ironic inversions which are also present in the traditional ballad. Among the Lucy poems, ‘’The Strange fits of passion have I known’’ is probably the most obvious ballad since it has an old, very simple ballad form. However, the Lucy poems never existed as such in W’s day, they were grouped this way by Victorian critics and editors after his death.

~ Inspiration ~

In terms of literary origin, Lucy derives from Robert Anderson’s song ‘’Lucy Gray of Allendale’’ which was written approximately at the same time and place as these 5 poems. Some critics believe that W was very much impressed with this happening and as a result, he wrote the Lucy poems. A great deal of attention has been given to the biographical problems raised by these poems. There is no exact answer to the question who Lucy is, except to say that it is irrelevant. Lucy may be inspired by W’s younger sister Dorothy or by the mother of his daughter – Annette Vallon or by any other young woman. It is interesting that Coleridge’s guess was that Dorothy is hidden behind the character of Lucy. On the other hand, she can also be viewed as a folk-song heroine, as well as a nature-spirit. However, there is no reason to suppose that W had any particular person in mind. Critics were more interested in the psychobiographical context, in the emotional line of his work, rather than in the speculations over Lucy’s real-life counterpart. Between October 1798 and February 1799, W worked on the first draft of the Lucy poems. At that time he was separated from his very good friend and colleague, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. They were on good terms, they even lived as neighbours in Germany, they supported each other in many ways. After their separation, W was depressed and the consequence of his depression for his work was the fantasy of Dorothy’s death in the Lucy poems. W both loved her and wished to be rid of her because of the serious inconvenience of her presence. It is even said that William blamed Dorothy for the loss of Coleridge’s company. However, the Lucy poems were created as an expression of his uncertainty. Their composition occurred in 3 phases which are connected with the emotional difficulties in W’s relationship with both Dorothy and Coleridge. 1. The first and the most important phase occurred during the first 3 months of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s separation in Germany: that’s when he wrote - Strange fits of passion have I known

- She dwelt among the untrodden ways
- A Slumber did my spirit seal

2. The second phase is marked with the poem:
Three years she grew in sun and shower

3. The final phase saw the composition of ‘’I travelled among unknown men’’ which was written in England, on his way back from the journeys in Germany, while the others were written on his journey.

These periods were marked by separation and reunion with Coleridge, also with several disappointments and failures through most of his adult life (e.q. when he had to abandon Anette Vallon with their daughter or when he and Dorothy were left without a permanent home they needed). Furthermore, W lived in Lake District, in the Dove Cottage, one of the most beautiful parts of England and nature, the sights around the lake where he had spent most of his adult life, had a great impact on him. His inspiration by nature can be seen in the following quote: “The world is too much with us, late and soon, getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is...
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