‘Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind’ is the first line of one of William Wordsworth’s most popular sonnets. However, the degree to which ‘Surprised by joy’ can be considered a truly great and successful poem is disputed by critics, so a few words of analysis may help to ascertain how far Wordsworth’s poem succeeds and how far it falls short of the greatness we expect from one of Romanticism’s most popular and enduring poetic voices.
Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom
But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind—
But how could I forget thee?—Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss!—That thought’s return Read the rest of this entry
The meaning of Wordsworth’s short rainbow poem
‘My heart leaps up’, sometimes known as ‘The Rainbow’ is perhaps Wordsworth’s shortest great poem. In just nine lines, Wordsworth expresses a number of the several features of Romanticism: a love of nature, the relationship between the natural world and the individual self, and the importance of childhood in making the poet the man he becomes, memorably expressed by Wordsworth’s statement that ‘The child is father of the man’.
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man; Read the rest of this entry
A commentary on one of Wordsworth’s ‘Lucy’ poems
‘She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways’ is one of William Wordsworth’s ‘Lucy’ poems, which he first published in the 1800 reprint of his landmark volume Lyrical Ballads (co-authored with Samuel Taylor Coleridge). In three quatrains, Wordsworth summarises the life, beauty, and death of Lucy, a ‘Maid’ who lived and died among Wordsworth’s beloved Lake District. Before we offer a few words of analysis of this poem, here’s a reminder of it.
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!
For the critic Geoffrey Durrant, the three stanzas of ‘She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways’ represent ‘Lucy’s growth, perfection, and death’. Read the rest of this entry