Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower

by William Wordsworth

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How does Wordsworth use common language in "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower"?

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In “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower,” Wordsworth uses simple, everyday language to make sure the emotional intensity of the poem is accessible to all readers. The poem celebrates the power of nature and explores complex feelings of affection and loss. Because Wordsworth wrote in plain language, any reader can feel the speaker’s emotions and experience the beauty of the poem.

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Like in many of his poems, Wordsworth uses simple language in “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower.” Instead of focusing on abstract concepts and using advanced vocabulary, Wordsworth uses everyday language to emphasize the beauty of nature and the girl’s connection with it.

This poem is one of Wordsworth's “Lucy poems,” poems written about an idealized girl named Lucy who dies very young. In this one, nature educates Lucy and the girl thus develops an intimate connection with the natural world. Here, Wordsworth is exploring simple Romantic themes like the power of nature. Poetry that explored such themes marked a departure from the poetry of previous eras, which explored elite subjects, like history and mythology, that were typically only truly accessible to the upper class. Romantics like Wordsworth wanted to celebrate the common man and his common emotions.

Wordsworth’s use of simple vocabulary in this poem makes his themes and meanings accessible to common readers. Poets before him were known to fill their poetry with esoteric allusions and advanced vocabulary that only the educated upper class could really understand. In contrast, Wordsworth is more focused on the feelings his poetry explores rather than how fancy the vocabulary is. He is famous for saying that poetry is the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” He wrote how people would speak so that the average commoner could understand his writing. For instance, consider the final lines of the poem:

She died, and left to me

This heath, this calm and quiet scene;

The memory of what has been

And never more will be.

In these lines, the speaker is expressing his sorrow at Lucy’s death but also remembering her fondly. Any common reader of his time would be able to understand this and could feel the intense, complicated emotions the speaker is feeling. Because the writing is so accessible, readers might be able to intimately connect to the poem too, as they might have had similar experiences or could imagine what it is like to lose a loved one. Wordsworth’s use of simple vocabulary thus helps make the poem effectively examine universal human experiences.

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