Who is William Wordsworth's Lucy in the "Lucy poems"?Identity of the girl.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The identity of the main character in the series of "Lucy poems" attributed to their author, Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), has long been debated by historians. The general concensus is that there was no actual Lucy, and that she was only a

... fictitious or hybrid character. Most critics agree that she is essentially a literary device upon whom he could project, meditate and reflect.

Wordsworth may have also based the poems at least partially on his sister, Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855), who maintained a diary of works which were published as the Grasmere Journal after her death. Dorothy lived with her brother (even after William's marriage) for most of her life, and William described her in verse as

My dear, dear Friend;...
Of thy wild eyes
My dear, dear Sister!

There were five Lucy poems, four of which were published in Lyrical Ballads (1800):

  • "Strange fits of passion have I known"
  • "She dwelt among the untrodden ways"
  • "I travelled among unknown men"
  • "Three years she grew in sun and shower"
  • "A slumber did my spirit seal"