She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways

She dwelt among the untrodden ways

By: William Wordsworth

Historical basis: 

Composed in the beginning of the romanticism movement during the Victorian era, William Wordsworth was said to have been traveling around and met a young girl named Lucy. Although there is no primary or hard proof that backs this statement up it most definitely does align with the purpose and context of the poem itself. Now when looking at the Romanticism movement of the arts whether it’d be literature, music or art itself, there was a lot of nature incorporated into the work as well as elements of love whether it be a tragedy or just a simple romance. In this case, it’s a tragedy.

Background of the poetSummary of the Poem 
Born: 7th April 1770
Died: 23rd April 1850  
One of the founder’s romanticism movement
Part of a series called the ‘Lucy poems’
A 12-line ballad written in 1798
Published with the 1800 lyrical ballads alongside Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
She dwelt among the untrodden ways speaks about the life a village girl from a lower class during the Victorian eras. This poem is an obituary dedicated towards the girl, honoring her legacy and implicitly using this poem as an allegory to represent the unjust hierarchy of classes.

Language Analysis:

Stanza 1:

The stanza begins with a repetition of the title of poem itself, ‘she dwelt among the untrodden ways’. The use of repetition wasn’t simply a coincidence but a strategic plan, establishing the use of emphasis about the story of young Lucy within the context of a sentence. The sentence uses the words dwelt which means to ‘live in’ and untrodden ways is pretty self-explanatory and means a place that hasn’t been visited before which essentially emphasizes not just the death of Lucy but also the level at which she was surrounded by isolation. Then the stanza concludes with the line ‘A maid whom there none to praise And very few to love’ this explicitly assures the readers’ assumptions about how Lucy was surrounded by isolation which helps the reader to align their assumptions with the truth voiced by the narrator.

Stanza 2:

The stanza begins with the use of symbolism to compare the girl with society as well. The violet represents the girl, beauty found within, the beauty found as a person whilst the mossy stone represents society, the use of the adjective mossy could be described as ‘old fashioned or extremely conservative’ which perfectly aligns with what society is. This phrase when looked at from an ariel view, the violet (Lucy) is hidden from society and why is that? It’s because of her social status. The stanza then continues with the phrase ‘-Fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky’ The interesting part of this line is the use of a dash there’s a variety of possibilities as to why this dash would’ve been use, it could either be used to add a breath between words which is highly unlikely or more possibly it could be used as a way to a drama to the poem. Now the use of a paradox perfectly helps to explain the situation, in its literal sense there’s billions of stars in the sky yet the narrator describes it her as being the only one shining in the sky, which explains the power within the young girl.

Text Box: She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!

Narrators response 
Element of Drama

Stanza 3:

The use of the paradox is more explicit than expected because of this the reader knows about how Lucy was never known except by a minority of people. The phrase ‘When Lucy ceased to be’ depicts the point of time of Lucy’s last breath which adds on that extra bit of emotional response before the poem concludes with its last line. Then the line continues with ‘But she is in her grave, and. Oh, The difference to me!’ The narrator ends this flow of mourning and emotion by a abrupt and sort of ‘stone cold’ ending which ends up like a sad conclusion but also serves the intention of this poem being quick and urgent.

Critical analysis Checklist:

Title/Author/DateShe dwelt among the untrodden ways, written by William Wordsworth in 1978; depicts the life of a young girl with a personality ‘too big for her class’ or her social status.
SubjectAn obituary and allegory rolled into one and dedicated to a young girl that the narrator possibly came across; addressing the beauty found within a person rather than the status society deems onto her.
Theme/ConcernThe unpopular ideal at the time, that a social status should never determine a person and that a status in all its discriminative glory is addressed in the poem through the use of figurative language, especially symbolism.
Speaker/Speaker situationThe narrator speaks as if there is a personal connection between the young girl (possibly Lucy) since there’s the vivid use of imagery.
ToneSince it’s an obituary for the once alive youthful girl the=tone would most definitely be gloomy but also at the same time rushed and the reason for that will be addressed in the form.
FormThis poem is only 3 stanzas with each stanza consisting of 4 lines each, this certain sort of consistency also represents the consistent pace when looking t how the message or the context is delivered to the reader, the reason could be because the narrator is delivering the poem with the intentions of urgency to make sure everyone knows and must mourn over the death of the young girl, Lucy.
VocabularyExplained in page 3 and 4
ImageryExplained in page 3 and 4
Rhythm/RhymeThe rhythm scheme is consistent with the scheme … ABAB, ABAB, ABAB    This consistency could be a way of avoiding any interest that develops when reading the poem towards the rhythm, this consistency makes the rhythm scheme seem ‘boring’ which would attract the reader to looking at the purpose of the poem as a whole.
Personal ResponseThis poem represents the truth about society, and how at the time, people judge beauty by the quantity of money they hold in their pockets rather than the beauty found within and this is clearly emphasized although it being emphasized implicitly the message still passes through.