Monday, 29 July 2019

ISC's Compilation of Lucy Poems and the Problem with it.

Lucy Poems is a set of five lyrical ballads, composed by English Romantic poet, William Wordsworth. Being introduced to Wordsworth at various stages of my life, both through an enthusiasm for English as well as on an academic level, I grew a deep appreciation for his work. In Elective English class, my teacher introduced me to Lucy Poems, a dreamy, sorrowful and intensely passionate set of poems about the poet’s love, Lucy. In the prescribed text by ISC, there were four poems given, ‘Strange fits of passion have I known, ‘She dwelt among the untrodden ways’, ‘I travelled among unknown men’ and ‘A slumber did my spirit seal’. Naturally, I studied and analysed these four poems without knowing until much later of the existence of a fifth poem that completes the ballad. This missing poem, ‘Three years she grew in sun and shower’ is the longest poem and perhaps, the most beautiful. It shows Lucy as the person Nature intended her to be. While the previous poem hinted at her growth in ‘And she I cherish’d turn her wheel, Beside an English fire’, this poem shows the completion of her ascent to maturity. 

The more I analysed the fourth poem, the less I understood why ISC would omit it. If they could include a gruelling twenty stanzas of Resolution and Independence, a pivotal poem in a collection of poems that I believe defines the poet’s character must be included. While the other three poems present Lucy in an excessively dream-like state with no real insight into her as a person, the fourth adds a touch of ground reality to this fantasy. While still maintaining its reverie through having Lucy’s description recited by Nature itself, it provides features to Lucy that so far have been missing. She loses a touch of her elusiveness making her even more alluring and thus, making the loss of her even more heartbreaking. This is the only poem in which we are properly introduced to Lucy, she is a ‘breathing’ character. Moreover, while Lucy has always seen in examples of nature like in ‘She dwelt among the untrodden ways’  and ‘ The bowers where Lucy play’d’, here we see nature as a third entity, as Nature. This heightens the conclusion of the poem where Lucy’s union with nature is complete and she becomes ‘Roll’d round in earth’s diurnal course’. 

Of course, there are several literary nuances to the poem that makes it appealing such as the mention of a willow which is an obvious allusion to her death and the fact that Nature created her to be ‘The girl, in rock and plain, In earth and heaven, in glade and bower’, a prophecy that is fulfilled as not only did she indeed play in these bowers but also left a lasting impact on those around her, memorialising herself and Nature. It also heightens the poet’s love for England as seen in the third poem, this is important as his love for Lucy inadvertently becomes the reason for him loving England. 

In conclusion, each of the poems forms an integral part of the story as a whole, therefore, to exclude any of them would be disrespect to the integrity of the collection. The first introduces the concept of Lucy and is the literal representation of the poet longing to be with Lucy but never being able to reach her, which forms the crux of the poems. The second shows the intimate relationship between Nature and Lucy, a point which is only realised in the fourth and depicts her isolation but juxtaposing union with nature. The third shows the aftermath of Lucy’s death on the poet and justifies his love for England, explaining his romanticism. The fourth allows deeper insight into Lucy and thus, we no longer see her as a dream but rather, as a memory of time passed. The fifth is a reassertion of Lucy’s death and allows for the completion of her union with nature as she becomes a part of it. 

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