What poetic devices does Wordsworth use in "Nutting" to convey his experience in the woods?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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William Wordworth's poem, "Nutting," is an autobiographical poem that recalls an event from his childhood while going into the woods to collect hazelnuts. (Wordsworth lost both parents very young, but lived—along with his brothers—with Ann Tyson, who allowed him to spend his free time out of doors, whenever his scheduled allowed it.)

The first literary device is personification, which gives human characteristics to non-human things. The first thing he personifies is the day, with the human qualities of life and death:

One of those heavenly days that cannot die...

We see it again in the line: "with tempting clusters hung" which refers to hazelnuts that cannot tempt as this is a human action.

We next see a metaphor, when the poet refers to a part of the wood untouched, calling it a "virgin scene." Onomatopoeia is present in this lovely piece of imagery where "murmur" creates the sound of the water: "Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on..."

The author uses a simile in describing the scattered mossy stones, comparing them to sheep:

...with my cheek on one of those green stones

That, fleeced with moss, under the shady trees,

Lay round me, scattered like a flock of sheep...

Personification is used again, giving "pleasure" the ability to "pay tribute:"

...when pleasure loves to pay

Tribute to ease...

Personification is used again especially with "heart luxuriates," "indifferent things", and "Wasting its kindliness:"

The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,

Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,

And on the vacant air.

Again Wordsworth uses personification to describe how the trees "act" when he "harvests" the hazelnuts, and their "patience:"

Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower
Deform'd and sullied, patiently gave up
Their quiet being

Wordsworth next uses a metaphor, comparing the sense of riches the speaker feels in retrieving the hazelnuts to the wealth of kings:

...rich beyond the wealth of kings...

The last example of personification is found in the poem's closing line, that gives the woods a spirit, which (as far as we know) cannot exist in trees, bushes, etc.

...for there is a Spirit in the woods...

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