Lines Written in Early Spring

by William Wordsworth

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What literary device is used in the line "I heard a thousand blended notes" from "Lines Written in Early Spring"?

Quick answer:

Devices being used in the line "I heard a thousand blended notes" include hyperbole, imagery, punning, and metaphor.

Expert Answers

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There is a good deal going on in the simple line "I heard a thousand blended notes." The speaker is sitting in a grove in early spring, listening to the birds sing. Even in a place filled with many, many birds, there are not going to be thousands of birds singing or even many birds singing thousands of notes, so this is an example of hyperbole.

Another literary device used in this line is imagery. Imagery is description using any of the five senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. Here, Wordsworth's speaker is setting the scene, conveying the sense of the many birds twittering and singing in the grove.

However, on a deeper level, Wordsworth is punning on the words "notes." He is using it to mean the notes of the singing birds, but he is also using notes in the sense of its metaphorical meaning as thoughts. In his inner ear, he is hearing or experiencing a blend of different moods. He will go on in the stanza to make this more explicit, saying that "pleasant thoughts / Bring sad thoughts to the mind." This metaphor, which compares the various moods he is experiencing all at once to the sounds of the many birds' songs, sets up the theme of the poem, which is that experiencing the joys of nature also brings the sadness of thinking of the many ways "man" has destroyed the world's natural harmony.

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