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Unrecognized Beauty in William Wordsworth’s Poem She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways Research Paper


In his poem She dwelt among the untrodden ways, William Wordsworth speaks about the woman who played an important role in his life. The author does not clearly tell that he was in love with her, but the readers can see that she definitely produced a long-lasting impression on him.

It should be noted that She dwelt among the untrodden Ways is one of the so-called Lucy poems, dedicated to an unknown woman whose identity was never fully disclosed (Kumar, 2003, p. 229).

One of themes that Wordsworth explores is the idea that beauty can often go unrecognized by others; however, other people’s recognition is unnecessary for a person who can appreciate beauty.

The imagery of the poem, its language, and structure are the main elements that help the author to convey his meaning and feelings for Lucy.

One of the things that catch the attention of the reader is the metaphors that Wordsworth uses. For instance, he compares this woman to “a violet by a mossy stone half hidden from the eye” (Wordsworth, 2008, p. 167).

In this way, the author shows that the beauty of this person could be unnoticed by many people. Yet, this image also implies that for the narrator, this woman stood out among many others because a violet definitely contrasts with mossy stones.

Yet, the readers know that this beauty was certainly recognized by the narrator because he compares her to a lonely “star” (Wordsworth, 2008, p. 167).

Again this metaphor implies that for Wordsworth Lucy represents the greatness of nature (Walz, 2007, p. 26). This is how the author emphasizes the beauty of this person, at least in his view.

Another linguistic element that is worth discussing is the use of understatements or the expressions that state something in very restraint form.

For instance, he does not simply say she died. Instead the author chooses the expression “ceased to be” (Wordsworth, 2008, p. 167). Thus, the narrator shows that Lucy was a strong presence in his life, and her very existence was very important to him.

Furthermore, the speaker does not mention his sorrow and the feeling of loss. Instead he says that her death was “the difference” to him (Wordsworth, 2008, p. 167).

In this way, Wordsworth seems to suggest that his feelings for this woman and his sorrow may not be expressed with the help of words. This is one of the key ideas of this poem.

Furthermore, one should not disregard such a literary element as the structure of the poem. It can be divided into three parts or stanzas and they symbolize the development, perfection and fading of beauty and love (Kumar, 2003, p. 229).

The first stanza describes the environment in which this woman grew up. The readers can see that Lucy grew up in a very inconspicuous where very few people could appreciate her beauty.

The second stanza shows how her beauty was discovered and what it meant for the narrator, while the third passage shows the impact that the death of this woman produced on the narrator.

Overall, William Wordsworth’s poem shows that beauty often exists only in the eyes of the beholder. As a rule, it does not require acknowledgement of other people.

The author shows that Lucy deeply affected his life and creative work, even though other people did not pay much attention to her.

The main strength of this poem is that the author expressed his feelings for this woman by using very concise language and powerful imagery.

Reference List

Kumar, S. (2003). A Companion to William Wordsworth. New York: Atlantic Publishers & Dist.

Walz, R. J. (2007). Loving to death: An object relations interpretation of desire and destruction in William Wordsworth’s Lucy poems. Journal Of Poetry Therapy, 20(1), 21-40.

Wordsworth, W. (2008). The Complete Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, in Ten Volumes – Vol. II: 1798-1800. New York: Cosimo, Inc.

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IvyPanda. "Unrecognized Beauty in William Wordsworth’s Poem She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways." April 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/unrecognized-beauty-in-william-wordsworths-poem-she-dwelt-among-the-untrodden-ways/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Unrecognized Beauty in William Wordsworth’s Poem She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways." April 4, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/unrecognized-beauty-in-william-wordsworths-poem-she-dwelt-among-the-untrodden-ways/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Unrecognized Beauty in William Wordsworth’s Poem She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways'. 4 April.

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