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She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways -- William Wordsworth

(Poem #376) She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways
  She dwelt among the untrodden ways
  Beside the springs of Dove,
  A Maid whom there were none to praise
  And very few to love:

  A violet by a mossy stone
  Half hidden from the eye!
  --Fair as a star, when only one
  Is shining in the sky.

  She lived unknown, and few could know
  When Lucy ceased to be;
  But she is in her grave, and, oh,
  The difference to me!
-- William Wordsworth
Probably the best known of Wordsworth's 'Lucy' poems. A brief note on these:

  The Lucy who is the subject of a small group of poems, most of them
  written in the winter of 1798-99, has never been identified, if she ever
  existed except as a creation of the poet's imagination. A widely held
  theory is that the poems represent an attempt to give literary expression
  and distance to Wordsworth's feeling of affection for his sister.

As for the poem itself, it contains in full measure the blend of beauty and
simplicity that permeates Wordsworth's poetry. The images are unstartling,
the metre regular, and the rhymes predictable; yet the poem as a whole has a
certain ineffable greatness to it that defies attempts at breakdown. As I've
mentioned several times, one of the marks of a great poet is the ability to
take a trite subject and, without any stylistic tricks, write a lasting,
memorable poem on it.


This week's two-for-the-price-of-one theme is based on Kenneth Baker's
excellent anthology "Unauthorized Versions", a collection of poetic
parodies. Here's today's parody:

  He Liv'd amidst th'Untrodden Ways

  He liv'd amidst th'untrodden ways
  To Rydal Lake that lead;
  A bard whom there were none to praise,
  And very few to read.

  Behind a cloud his mystic sense,
  Deep hidden, who can spy?
  Bright as the night when not a star
  Is shining in the sky.

  Unread his works - his 'Milk White Doe'
  With dust is dark and dim;
  It's still in Longman's shop, and oh!
  The difference to him!

        -- Hartley Coleridge
        (eldest son of S T Coleridge)

A trifle cutting, but nonetheless fun to read :)


Biography and assessment, as well as a quote by Wordsworth on poetry, can be
found after 'The Daffodils", poem #63

Another nice parody is Kipling's 'The Idiot Boy' (the title itself is from
another Wordsworth poem),

For more on Wordsworth and the Lucy poems see


30 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Cox SMTP west said...

Don't get it.

Dinesh Sairam said...

I love all the Lucy Poems. Especially "Strange fits of passion" :)

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