Last Updated on October 18, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 377
Context: Although the second half of this poem has been made famous by two parodies of it (Edward Lear: "Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly" and Lewis Carroll: "The White Knight's Ballad"), it remains an important work from the author's early period when his inspiration was still at its height. The poem, twenty stanzas in length, shows that the author, who had so often declared his faith in nature as a guide, a teacher, and a friend, was also aware that nature could at times be very unkind. The subject arose from an actual experience that Wordsworth encountered in the Lake District: that of meeting, during one of his walks, an old man, badly crippled by an accident and yet struggling to make some kind of a living. The old man's fortitude amidst these reverses of fortune compelled the poet's admiration but reminded him that all men–especially poets–are subject to these same reverses. The poem breaks into two parts: the first describes the beauty of the moors early in the morning after a heavy storm; the second recounts the poet's meeting with the old leech-gatherer and the conversation that ensued. It was this second section that inspired the parodies of Lear and Carroll, and it must be admitted that Wordsworth's questions and his inattention to the old man's replies are fit subjects for parody. But in the early part of the poem, Wordsworth expresses his usual view of his kinship with nature and his attribution of human qualities to all of her manifestations:
There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the stock-dove broods;
The jay makes answer as the magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.
All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with raindrops;–on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way wherever she doth run.
See eNotes Ad-Free
Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.