What are the themes, inspiration and mood in "Lucy" by William Wordsworth?

3 Answers | Add Yours

lynnebh's profile pic

lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

The "Lucy" poems were written during a period in Wordsworth's life when he lived in Germany and his good friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, lived in England. These five poems deal with different themes but they were all inspired by the fact that Wordsworth missed his friend. He was living in Germany with his sister at the time and they were not getting along very well. The "Lucy" of the poems is a fictitious woman who supposedly died young. It is uncertain as to whether Wordsworth based Lucy on a real person or whether he made her up entirely.

The five "Lucy" poems are musings and examinations on love, especially one-sided love. The mood of the poems is sad and they are often compared to elegies (poems lamenting the dead).

Strange Fits of Passion I have Known is about a trip the poet makes to Lucy's home and his thoughts along the way. As he gets closer to the cottage, the moon appears to be "sinking" and the speaker begins to freak out, hoping that this does not mean that Lucy is dead.

She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways is a poem all about Lucy herself, and ends with her death.

I Travelled Among Unknown Men is a poem about Lucy's death, but also discusses nature and England.

Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower was co-written with Coleridge and compares the love of Lucy to the love of nature, similar to the poem above.

A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal is a final Lucy poem about Lucy's death but also about the speaker's consolation that she is in a better place.

See the link below for some information that might be helpful.

amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The poems are all different, different variations. Speculation about who Lucy is goes from his sister Dorothy, Mary Hutchinson, or a made up person - who may or may not be a conglomeration of people Wordsworth knew (possibly including those mentioned) as well as his own idealizations.

Themes, Mood and Inspiration:

The poems are about a muse: love, or object of affection, inspiration - loved from afar and the poet's/speaker dealing with the death of that person (Lucy). Compounding that grief is that Lucy was the inspiration for the poet's creativity. So, the mood is elegiac, melancholy. Other themes and moods are nostalgia, imagination and memory which dominate a lot of Wordsworth's poetry.

The Lucy poems begin with "Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known." This speculates about the death/disappearance of his inspiration with the sinking moon analogy. The speaker reflects on what his mood would be like in the wake of the death of his ideal love.

"She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways" - Lucy's isolation and being relatively unknown until news of her death. Imagine reading a gravestone of a person unknown to you and imagining/creating idealizations of what that person may have been like.

"I Traveled among Unknown Men" - probably praise for Wordsworth's native England, with the comparison between Lucy and the natural English landscape.

"Three years she grew in sun and shower" - again, linking Lucy to nature; her death separates her from nature and humanity.

"A Slumber did my spirit steal" - the finality of Lucy's death and the speaker's calm because Lucy is at peace and beyond the trials of life. There is almost a consolation for the speaker because although Lucy has died (as if in a dream - 1st stanza and then in reality - 2nd stanza), she is now more connected to nature, albeit separated from humanity.

subrataray's profile pic

subrataray | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Five poems in series ,written by Wordsworth give us the poet's own crisis of life .The mood as the poems reflect , is returning to a passive calmness of the poet .The central figure appears as  the poet's illegitimate daughter,-Caroline .The poet could not offer her his filial love ,as his French mistress Annettee Vallon did not agree to return England .By the Sea  is reference .

Lucy may again be a prototype of Russeau's  Emily ,-the very symbol of ideal Nature .Wordsworth's view of nature under went a massive change .The former view is killed by the poet . Dorothy , the poet's life long companion is often thought as Lucy .Again , Mary Hutchinson , whom the poet married , comes up as a rival of Lucy .The poet's youth-time love ,-Esthwaite Water died early .She might be Lucy .

The Lucys are the poets different loves , and one Lucy is simply confusing .In my penion Lucy is the Nature-mistress who peeps through the different ladies , and a sweet child .

We’ve answered 318,916 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question