illustrated portrait of English poet WIlliam Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

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What sound device does Wordsworth use in "Lucy Gray"?

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The sound device that Wordsworth uses in this poem is alliteration. Alliteration is a series of repeated consonants which correspond to the stressed syllables in a line of a poem.  The phrase ‘hawthorn hedge’ in this poem is an example of alliteration. However, perhaps the most significant use of alliteration in this work occurs in the final verse, with the phrases ‘solitary song’ and ‘whistles in the wind’. This is effective in building up an evocative picture of Lucy, or her apparition, singing her lonely song which mingles with the wind.

Lucy appears to become wholly at one with nature by the end of the poem, as wild and intangible as the wind. From the first she appears virtually part of the wild landscape which is her home:

No mate, no comrade Lucy knew;         

She dwelt on a wide moor,          

-The sweetest thing that ever grew         

Beside a human door! 

The reference to her ‘growing beside a human door’ is quite striking; it is almost as though she were a wild sweet plant growing beside a place of human habitation, rather than a person living in a human dwelling in the usual way. She is also compared to a roe deer, and by the end appears effectively to have become some kind of nature-spirit.

Lucy is a character who appears in several of Wordsworth’s poems. She functions as an idealized female figure for the poet, and is generally invoked in connection with nature.

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