What is the summary of William Wordsworth's poem "The Education of Nature?

Expert Answers
lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this poem, the narrator experiences unrequited love for his beloved girl named Lucy. The idea of her death at so young an age weighs heavily on the poet. The tone is one of melancholic and elegiac expression.

Truly, the speaker of the poem idealizes Lucy. She is his own girl who has rapturous beauty. She leaves this world at such a young age until the speaker is found in depression over his girl named Lucy.

In her calm and silent expression, Lucy is to be the envy of others. She is just and easily pleased by Nature's wishes to take her early in life. She does not resist Nature when Nature wishes to take so unique an individual known as Lucy.

No doubt, the speaker is in awe of his girl named Lucy. She is his idealized form of beauty. She represents the stateliest and loveliest of forms:

"And vital feelings of delight
Shall rear her form to stately height,

Truly, Lucy is the form of quiet beauty. No doubt, the speaker is meditating and reflecting on Lucy who did not live long enough. She left this world too soon. Now, the speaker only has a memory of her--one that is strong and vivid.

Lucy is pure in her virgin form. The speaker expresses his endearment to her purity and his grief at her passing:

Her virgin bosom swell;
Such thoughts to Lucy I will give
While she and I together live
Here in this happy dell."
Thus Nature spake--The work was done--
How soon my Lucy's race was run!
She died, and left to me
This heath, this calm and quiet scene;
The memory of what has been,
And never more will be.


davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem is about a little girl called Lucy who tragically dies at the age of three. It's not entirely clear whether or not she was based on a real life person. In any case, Wordsworth uses the figure of Lucy as an opportunity for reflection. He also uses her to develop a common theme of his poetry: the almost pantheistic unity of human beings and nature. It isn't God who speaks, who takes Lucy back into His bosom at the hour of her death—it is Nature, who says:

. . . "A lovelier flower

On earth was never sown;

This child I to myself will take;

She shall be mine, and I will make

A lady of my own . . ."

Indeed, most of the poem constitutes a monologue by Nature. Lucy came from nature and to nature she shall return. In a sense, she will never really die; she will live on, her soul transfigured, at one with the stars and the clouds and the mountain springs. And, as the narrator surveys the heath, his heart finds peace and rest. In returning to nature Lucy has given the narrator a profound sense of tranquility. And though no longer physically alive, she lives on in both the landscape and the memories it continues to inspire.