woman sitting among purple grass at night with a flower on her chest and in her long, flowing hair

She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways

by William Wordsworth

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"She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways"

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Context: Wordsworth's five so-called "Lucy Poems" describe the effect upon the soul of the death of a beautiful maiden. Although there have been numerous attempts to identify Lucy, she probably refers to no specific person. A letter from William and his sister Dorothy to Coleridge, in which the poet says he has no books and must write in self-defense and in which two of the poems appear in longhand, suggests that they are an exercise of the creative imagination. In the poem which follows the author describes his grief at Lucy's death.

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:
A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
–Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!
Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849) later wrote a parody of the poem in which he quipped: "He lived among the untrodden ways/ To Rydal Lake that lead;/ A bard whom there were none to praise,/ And very few to read."

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