How does the poem Lucy Gray differ from the other poems of the Lucy collections?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

More realistic than the other "Lucy Poems" in Wordworth's Lyrical Ballads, the ballad "Lucy Gray" is excluded from the "Lucy Poems" because it exemplifies a narrative style and directly imitates the traditional eighteenth century ballad form with specific details on Lucy's age and her relationship to the narrator who tells the story, while the other poems are ambiguous about age or relationships and less traditional in form. While they,too, are elegiac in nature, the subject of the poems is thought to be Wordsworth's sister Dorothy and the ideas more Romantic as the woman is much more connected to Nature than little Lucy Gray.

In the poem, "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways," for instance, there is an "inscrutable ambiguity that delineates the absoluteness of death and our 'human fears'" as critic Maureen Cutajar writes.

She dwelt among the untrodden ways...
A violet by a mossy stone
...Half hidden from the eye!
__Fair as a star, when only one shining in the sky. 

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

Clearly, there is a much more ethereal and nebulous quality to "she" in this poem than is in "Lucy Gray," while in "Strange Fits of Passion I Have Known," there is a much more personal tone as the poem is narrated by the speaker, a lover, who divulges his feelings:

In one of those sweet dreams I slept,
Kind Nature's gentlest boon! 
And, all the while, my eyes I kept 
On the descending moon.... 

What fond and wayward thoughts will slide
Into a Lover's head!
“O mercy!” to myself I cried,
“If Lucy should be dead!”

In all the other Lucy poems, too, the Romantic elements so characteristic of Wordsworth are more prevalent than in "Lucy Gray." These elements are those such as the human figure transcending from and returning into the landscape, the symbolism of the moon as that of change, the falling back of the human into a kind of spirit, and Nature as a living and benevolent entity in all life and emotion dwell.