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!
William Wordsworth‘s Brief Biography
William Wordsworth is one of the greatest poets in the English language, the chief of a group of poets known as the Romantics. His poetry collected in a volume known as the Lyrical Ballads (1798) and written jointly by him and his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge marks a clear break with the idiom and manner favored by the poets of the 18th century.
What is the poem about? First of all, how do we know from the poem whether the lady he talks about is alive or dead? The final stanza gives her name ‘Lucy’ and we know she is dead because we are told she is in her grave and also ‘Lucy’ ceased to be.
Is the poem about Lucy or how the poet was deeply affected by her death? I think the poem tells us about Lucy and also about the way the speaker felt about her death.
How do we know that her loss had a deep impact on the speaker?
The last line: “The difference to me” gives the answer that he felt her death more than anybody else. Also, ‘oh’ in the line before the last expresses his profound sense of loss and grief. In fact, he is unable to articulate the difference that her death has made. However, the poem is shrouded in mystery. In other words, we are left with a long list of unanswered questions related to Lucy and her specific relationship with the speaker. Was she a real person known to Wordsworth only and probably a few others as the poem suggests? Was the poet secretly in love with her? Or was she a mere friend whom he happened to know? (She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways)
Also how old was she: young or old? But apart from these questions, the power of the poem lies in the poet’s ability to represent grief over the death of someone who was so dear to him very forcefully. Also apart from whether the speaker is the historical Wordsworth or someone else, the speaker remains a major focus of the poem, and the poem successfully conveys his feelings of loss and utter helplessness.