Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower: Omnipresent Then

Three Years she grew in sun and shower cover image

Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower is one of the Lucy Poems by William Wordsworth in which the poet talks about an elusive person named Lucy. Lucy is a formless being, changing as the poem changes. In this poem, Lucy is represented by Wordsworth’s daughter Catherine Wordsworth. The poem describes the beauty of Lucy and how nature took her for herself, making her a part of the natural order. Wordsworth reminisces about the small amount of time he got to spend with his daughter. 

A little bit of context before you read the poem and the analysis. Catherine Wordsworth was one of Wordsworth’s daughters. Unfortunately, she died when she was just three. The reason for her death is said to have been polio. This poem is about grief one gets from loss and in a way consoling one’s heart. A way to say that even though the loved one is not close physically, but always around spiritually, in everything we experience. Take a look at the poem:

Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower 

Three years she grew in sun and shower,

Then Nature said, “A lovelier flower

On earth was never sown;

This Child I to myself will take;

She shall be mine, and I will make

A Lady of my own.

“Myself will to my darling be

Both law and impulse: and with me

The Girl, in rock and plain,

In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,

Shall feel an overseeing power

To kindle or restrain.

“She shall be sportive as the fawn

That wild with glee across the lawn

Or up the mountain springs;

And hers shall be the breathing balm,

And hers the silence and the calm

Of mute insensate things.

“The floating clouds their state shall lend

To her; for her the willow bend;

Nor shall she fail to see

Even in the motions of the Storm

Grace that shall mould the Maiden’s form

By silent sympathy.

“The stars of midnight shall be dear

To her; and she shall lean her ear

In many a secret place

Where rivulets dance their wayward round,

And beauty born of murmuring sound

Shall pass into her face.

“And vital feelings of delight

Shall rear her form to stately height,

Her virgin bosom swell;

Such thoughts to Lucy I will give

While she and I together live

Here in this happy dell.”

Thus Nature spake—The work was done—

How soon my Lucy’s race was run!

She died, and left to me

This heath, this calm and quiet scene;

The memory of what has been,

And never more will be.

Lost forever, but always close 

The poem is about loss and dealing with the absence of someone loved. It shines because of how beautifully the feelings have been expressed. It gives death a new meaning and perhaps helps everyone in dealing with the loss. Let’s look at each stanza and its meaning. 

Three years she grew in sun and shower,

Then Nature said, “A lovelier flower

On earth was never sown;

This Child I to myself will take;

She shall be mine, and I will make

A Lady of my own

From the first sentence, we get to know that she was with the poet, alive and breathing for three years. It was then that nature decided to make the child her own. Nature herself was amused and in love with the beauty of this child, so much so that she decided to bring her up, to make her child. 

“Myself will to my darling be

Both law and impulse: and with me

The Girl, in rock and plain,

In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,

Shall feel an overseeing power

To kindle or restrain.

This stanza is a very powerful one. Nature will be to Lucy both law and impulse. What does this mean? Law is something to be followed, enforced from the outside while an impulse is an urge to do something from within. This is what nature means. The child will be both the forces and will have control over everything. 

Notice the use of opposites to represent all the things in the world? Law and Impulse, rock and plain,  Earth and heaven, glade and bower, and finally, Kindle and restrain. Kindle and restrain is the same as law and impulse.

“She shall be sportive as the fawn

That wild with glee across the lawn

Or up the mountain springs;

And hers shall be the breathing balm,

And hers the silence and the calm

Of mute insensate things.

She will be present everywhere, from the lawns to the springs. She will be happy, gleeful, cheerful, and at the same time silent and calm, like something unconscious. This stanza is referring to her concoction with nature and everything in nature that moves and stays stagnant. This whole stanza and the ones above are being spoken by nature, this is the will of nature. 

“The floating clouds their state shall lend

To her; for her the willow bend;

Nor shall she fail to see

Even in the motions of the Storm

Grace that shall mould the Maiden’s form

By silent sympathy.

Everything natural shall be for her, the clouds shall be at her command, and then the winds will move in a way to make everything come towards her. The slow gales will make the clouds and twigs move. But that’s not all. Even the stormy winds that rattle the strongest of humanity’s creations will be respectful for her. 

“The stars of midnight shall be dear

To her; and she shall lean her ear

In many a secret place

Where rivulets dance their wayward round,

And beauty born of murmuring sound

Shall pass into her face.

This is the process of how the child will grow up in the care of nature. How she will be always in contact with every part of the natural world. How multiple parts that create the entire world would take part in her upbringing. 

“And vital feelings of delight

Shall rear her form to stately height,

Her virgin bosom swell;

Such thoughts to Lucy I will give

While she and I together live

Here in this happy dell.”

And how beautiful nature shall make Lucy, turn her into this brilliant woman. Nature will love her like the most loving mother and make her into a woman. She was a lovely flower, so lovely that nature decided to take it with her. Now they both reside in the beautiful dell and will always keep doing so. 

Thus Nature spake—The work was done—

How soon my Lucy’s race was run!

She died, and left to me

This heath, this calm and quiet scene;

The memory of what has been,

And never more will be.

Finally, we come to the last stanza of the poem where Wordsworth speaks about the current situation and what he is going through. He told this tale of nature and her intentions and then finally, how her actions followed. Lucy died and all that is left with Wordsworth is the memory of his child and the painful thought that what was once will never be. 

A stanza from the poem three years she grew in sun and shower by William Wordsworth

The meaning of the poem

Stanza by stanza analysis of the poem reveals a lot about the poem, but not much about the overarching poem, the message that the poet was trying to convey. The poem is about loss, the grief that one gets from it, and how to live life after that. So how is the poet dealing with the loss? By consoling his mind and knowing where his daughter is.

This is very similar to people assuming that the loved ones live like the stars in the sky when they die, but since Wordsworth loved nothing like he loved nature, the amalgamation of his daughter and nature allowed him to live through the grief. And in many ways he is true. People do mix with nature, with their natural world when they die. In some ways, they become a part of the universe, however small it may be. This concludes the article. 

Read About All the Other Lucy Poems by William Wordsworth and find one strange thing about Lucy:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *