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"And hers shall be the breathing balm,-And hers the silence & the calm-Of silent...

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kausik911 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted July 22, 2010 at 9:49 PM via web

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"And hers shall be the breathing balm,-And hers the silence & the calm-Of silent insensate things.."

Explain the lines taken from "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Flower" by William Wordsworth (stanza 3 lines 4-6).

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lindseywarren | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 23, 2010 at 12:22 PM (Answer #1)

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"Three Years she Grew in Sun and Flower" is one of Wordsworth's Lucy poems, a group of poems that center on a girl who has passed away at a young age.  In this poem, Wordsworth imagines that a personified Nature has taken Lucy away because of her loveliness.  In taking her, however, Nature has imbued her with a great deal of power over the world, specifically the natural landscape (the "sun and flower") from which she came.

To understand these three lines, it's helpful to look at them in the context of the entire third stanza.  The first three lines are easy enough: in her new state, Lucy will embody all of the energy and "glee" of a fawn running and jumping across a field.  These lines mean that Lucy now inhabits all the joy in the world (certainly a comfort for the mourning speaker, in that everywhere he looks and sees joy, he can imagine that it's Lucy).  By contrast the two lines you've asked about indicate that Lucy also inhabits all of the peaceful, quiet moments of the world and of nature; for example, the "mute, insensate things" mentioned might be the plants that Lucy is so closely tied to--Lucy embodies their silence and calm.  What's more, she even acts as a once-living "balm" to soothe them and induce comfort and peace.

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