William Wordsworth's “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways” is one of several poems that Wordsworth wrote about an unknown subject named Lucy. Lucy is something of a mysterious figure in that historians aren’t certain if she was real or imaginary.
In this poem Wordsworth is expressing the idea that Lucy lives alone, or at least very nearly alone. But, although she may be lonely, this solitary setting it makes her all the more beautiful.
Wordsworth, like a good Romantic poet, uses imagery from nature to show Lucy’s loneliness and beauty:
- Untrodden ways: these words imply that she lives in a place that is not often traveled.
- None to praise and very few to love: there are not many around who can appreciate and love Lucy.
- Half hidden from the eye: in her solitary setting, few see her or know her.
- When only one is shining in the sky: the poet imagines that Lucy is as beautiful as a star that is alone in the night sky. How much would we appreciate a star if there were only one in the entire sky?
- Few can know when Lucy ceased to be: when Lucy passes away, she does so in obscurity; not many people know about it.
It is also worth noting that the poet compares Lucy to a violet in the line
A violet by the mossy stone...
Violets are not the kind of flowers one often sees growing in the wild. Lucy is not the kind of woman one would expect to find all alone in an out-of-way place in the country.