A Poem by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
A Study Guide
Type of Work
.......William Wordsworth's “She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways" is a three-stanza poem with characteristics of an elegy (in that the poem laments a person's death) and a ballad (in that the poem tells a bit of a story).
.......William Wordsworth wrote the poem while sojourning in Germany in 1798. Longman published it in London in 1800 in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems by Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. "She Dwelt" is one of five Wordsworth poems centering on a woman named Lucy, who died young. Whether she was a real person whom Wordsworth encountered while living in the village of Grasmere in Cumbria County, England, is unknown. Other Lucy poems include "Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower," "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal," "Strange Fits of Passion Have I Known" and "I Travelled among Unknown Men."
poem is set in northern England in Cumbria County's Lake District, near
the village of Grasmere, where Wordsworth maintained a cottage.
rhyme scheme is abab, cdcd, efef. Note, however, that the final syllables
of lines 5 and 7 (stone and one) constitute an eye rhyme
rather than a sound rhyme. Each of the end rhymes is masculine—that is,
only the final syllables are involved in the rhyme. (In feminine rhyme,
on the other hand, the rhyme involves the final two syllables, as in ringing
An extra syllable appears
in lines 1 and 5. One may alter the pronunciation as follows to make them
One may also pronounce the
extra syllable in each line, making one of the feet in the line an anapest.
.......The noble and virtuous sometimes receive little or no attention during their journey through life. They are blazing stars who soar through the heavens unnoticed or seldom seen, then burn out and die.
Following are examples of figures of speech in the poem.
Beside the springs of DoveMetaphor
Comparison of Unlike Things Without Using Like, As, or Than
A violet by a mossy stone (comparison of Lucy to a violet)Simile
Comparison of Unlike Things Using Like, As, or Than
Fair as a star (comparison of Lucy to a star)
.......The poem can stand as a lament on behalf of all people who go through life unnoticed and unappreciated.
Study Questions and Writing Topics
1. Write an essay arguing
that Wordsworth's theme remains highly relevant today. Be generous with
examples of people who are unnoticed and unappreciated.
.......Following are links to additional Wordsworth poems analyzed by Cummings Study Guides.
Upon Westminster Bridge