She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways: The Brilliance Of Wordsworth

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She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways is one of the famous “Lucy” poems where Wordsworth talks about this mysterious woman named “Lucy”. Unlike other poems in the series, this one gives the reader more information about Lucy and why Wordsworth was so intrigued by her. What captivated him to write about this woman and be so affected by her absence. This article will give the meaning and analysis of the poem and we shall try and find one common aspect of all “Lucy” poems and perhaps the message behind it.

Take a look at the poem and then we’ll begin with the meaning. The latter part of the article will have the technicalities such as the literary devices, rhyming scheme, and stuff. So if you are interested in reading that, you can continue ahead. For now, take a look at the poem.

She Dwelt Among 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!

Meaning of the solitude 

The poem starts by giving us the location of the beautiful woman in focus and from the first line we know that Lucy lives in solitude, in a place where hardly anyone goes. A small settling in some remote area perhaps.

She dwelt among the untrodden ways

Beside the springs of Dove,

A Maid whom there were none to praise

And very few to love:

Wordsworth also tells us that she was an exceptional beauty but there was hardly anyone to praise or love her. We can also figure out that the girl was young when Wordsworth found her. From the words such as “springs” and “Maid”, we get to know that the first stanza describes a young Lucy. Perhaps the woman could never understand how beautiful she was because no one was there to admire it.

Star or the Morning Star?

The second stanza compares Lucy to a blooming flower and a shining star. This means that now Lucy has turned into a blooming flower or has reached the prime of her beauty. Two things here that show the brilliance of Wordsworth in the use of metaphors. First the use comparison of her as a flower and second with the morning star. 

   A violet by a mossy stone

Half hidden from the eye!

—Fair as a star, when only one

Is shining in the sky.

A violet by a mossy stone tells us that Lucy is like a flower, blooming with beauty. But by a mossy stone tells that the place where she lives is completely in contrast with her appearance. The place is a damp, mossy place where this flower does not belong. There’s a reason why hardly anyone visits this place.

The second parallel drawn with the star shows yet another meaning. She was the only beauty that caught the attention, all other were merely the dark night. Like the morning star or the evening star shines alone during dusk and dawn, Lucy’s beauty was the only thing worth seeing. Also, the morning star is the planet Venus, named after the Greek Goddess Venus which represents love. Nicely done, Mr. Wordsworth. 

The night turned dark, only for Wordsworth

We come to the last stanza of the poem where Lucy has arrived at the final stage of life; Death. What makes this poem great is how Wordsworth has brilliantly conveyed his pain, his grief at the loss of Lucy so subtly. There’s no grand expression of grief, but just one single sentence. That’s it

She lived unknown, and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be;

But she is in her grave, and, oh

The difference to me!

As she lived her life, unknown to the lot, she has passed away and that too is known by a few. Lucy is dead, after living her life in obscurity, being a flower in a mud pond and now the flower is dead, buried in the mud. While this might not be a matter of great impression for many, to the poet, it made a huge difference. Lucy was no more, the star was lost.

The essence of Lucy poems

One thing that I have found in Lucy poems is not just the ambiguity of this mysterious personality that Wordsworth has fallen in eternal love with. But it is also how the poems always end with the end of Lucy herself. All the Lucy poems’ last stanza is either about Lucy dying or the thought of losing Lucy to death. Perhaps Wordsworth is using Lucy as a concept, as a representation of love that has no form. And in the end, things end.

In this poem, the reason why Wordsworth keeps saying that Lucy lived a solitary life and none but a few knew about her life and death is because she was different. He feels that her beauty was worth more than a faceless existence. Perhaps she could have lived a much better life if she were among more people.

This concludes the meaning and analysis of the poem. You can of course continue ahead to look at the technical side of the poem. We’ll keep it short and simple. 

She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways poem
She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways by William Wordsworth

Themes and literary devices in the poem

For the theme of the poem, it is majorly love, as it is with all Lucy poems. Accompanying that is the loss or death of the loved one(s). Love and death are the two major themes of this poem. One could also say that solitude and mourning are also themes of this poem. Not being able to live life to its full potential can also be extracted as a theme of the poem.

Rhyming scheme: The poem is a lyrical ballad with the rhyming scheme ABAB and has three quatrains. The meter alternates from stressed to unstressed. 

Metaphors: As discussed earlier, there are a lot of very important metaphors used. A Violet by the mossy stone, among untrodden ways, ceased to be, fair as a star when… are all examples of metaphors in the poem.

She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways is a brilliant poem with the undertones of love, beauty, life, and mourning. It is about the pain of losing something you never had. It is about finding someone so beautiful that it makes everything around them insipid. A brilliant example of Romanticism poetry.

While you are here with us, how about you stay a little longer and read more about the Lucy Poems :

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