woman sitting among purple grass at night with a flower on her chest and in her long, flowing hair

She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways

by William Wordsworth

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In "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways" by Wordsworth, what is the meaning of "oh / The difference to me"?

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In the simplest possible terms, the meaning of this final line in this poem of lament is something along the lines of: you could not possibly understand the amount of difference this makes to my life.

The speaker in this poem is lamenting the untimely death of Lucy, an unmarried woman who has garnered little praise or admiration in her life. She does not have children or a family who would obviously mourn her. Indeed, her death seemingly would make little difference to the everyday functioning of the world. However, what the speaker is pointing out in this poem is that it will make a big difference to his life not to have Lucy in it. So, there may be people in the world who we think—or they think—are of little importance, but in truth there is always someone who will miss them.

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The quotation you reference comes at the end of William Wordsworth's "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways." To put it in context, here's the poem's final stanza with the quote included:

She lived unknown, and few could know
        When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
         The difference to me! (9-12)

The poem is about a girl named Lucy who lives secluded from society in nature. At the end of the poem, Lucy seems to have passed away and, while no one else seems to notice or care, the speaker regards Lucy's passing as a major and emotional event. The quote you reference ("oh / The difference to me!") suggests that the speaker is deeply affected by Lucy's death, despite the fact that she was seemingly insignificant by society's standards. Thus, this quote encapsulates the main idea of the poem: even the most ordinary, commonplace, and unremarkable individuals (people like Lucy, in other words) have the power to be significant and important.  

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