The two poems, although written in two very different periods, express the same attitude towards judging others before acquaintance. This act is bigoted and in the two poems, we learn how both characters, who seem unsophisticated at a first glance, are actually quite profound at heart. We learn this through a strong use of metaphors referring to the nature around them. In this essay, I will portray how this use of imagery accentuates the effect on the reader.
Despite ‘She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways’ being an extremely concise poem, it is replete with deep meaning and this is actually why it is one of the most pleasant poems I have studied. The poem isn’t actually about Lucy herself, more on the effect her departure has had on him. The poem consists of three stanzas.
The first stanza has a dismaying mood. The reason being is because it informs the reader of how the character ‘Lucy’ was a single woman for ‘whom there were none to praise’ and ‘very few to love’. This makes the reader feel empathy towards her as no one should live like that. The prepositions ‘among’ and ‘beside’ reveal her character as a spectator and never a participant in the crowd. This allows the reader to understand the reason as to why she was barely ever noticed by others. The term ‘Besides the springs of Dove’ could be understood literally or metaphorically. Lucy might have lived near the river Dove. However, I think, that the poet, William Wordsworth, was trying to emphasise her beauty by rendering her as a ‘pure and gentle’ person. This is because a dove has connotations of purity, innocence and delicacy, which leads to her sensitivity, giving the reader the impression that the poet adores her for her incorruptible virtue and fragility.
Furthermore, the second stanza also accentuates on her inner and outer beauty through the use of metaphors. ‘A violet by a mossy stone’ suggests that her attractiveness is like that of a vibrant and rich, purple flower next to an old and dull audience. However, a ‘mossy stone’ results from existing for a long time in the same place, therefore, representing someone who has been for a long period of time. ‘Half hidden from the eye’ is an ironic phrase as it impossible to be half-hidden, you’re either hidden or you’re not. Thus, implying that people only ever got a glimpse of her or that someone who wasn’t as outstanding as her outshadowed her. It could also suggest that she tries to hide behind that crowd; yet, the poet can still distinguish her from it and appreciate her.
The preposition ‘by’ also depicts her as an observer rather than an active person. ‘Fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky’ could have many implications. For example, it could be accentuating on her beauty as the ‘brightest star’ is Venus, which in Greek mythology has been notoriously named as the goddess of love and beauty. However, it could also be referring to her unique character. I think this because when there is only one bright star in the midnight sky, one can admire the beauty of that one star which seems small to the human eye but in reality is actually a colossal rock of profligate beauty and unknown depth. This could be understood in contrast to the ‘mossy stone’ which she hides behind. It could also be referring to her enigmatic temperament as the star instantly leads one to think of the midnight sky which has connotations of secrecy and esotericism.
The third stanza is different to the first two as it is about her passing and the effect it has had on the poet, whereas, the first two express adoration. The poet uses infinitive verbs in the previous stanzas. I think this is because he doesn’t want to believe that his love is gone, never to return. The poet uses the term ‘ceased to be’ instead of ‘died’ as it illustrates that her existence is gone- that nobody noticed her when she was alive and nobody will notice her passing either. If Wordsworth had written ‘died’, the stanza wouldn’t have had as much effect on the reader as it connotes remembrance and reminiscence after the departure of someone dearly and beloved. On the contrary, I think that that was the point Wordsworth was trying to make; that her way of life and character were so isolated that nobody noticed her when she was gone. He was the only one to notice and appreciate Lucy and she wasn’t even aware of it.
‘Farmhand’ is similar to ‘She Dwelt Among Untrodden Ways’, as it portrays another character of the opposite sex whose living a similar life to Lucy’s- isolated and unseen.
The poet, James K. Baxter, uses words from the character’s natural environment, consistently, as a metaphor to emphasise its effect as nature is commonly known.
We know that Farmhand is not keeping himself from others but is being alienated by them as the poet writes ‘but his eyes always turn to the dancefloor’. This phrase signifies that he is yearning for something which is most probably out of reach. This is because no matter how much fun he may be having, he still turns to look at what is out of bounds. ‘Girls drifting like flowers’ accentuates females’ grace and feminism. ‘Drifting’ implies the girls are dancing to music or swaying ‘like flowers’. This term could also be used in contrast to what is written in the third and fourth stanza.
The last two lines of the second stanza suggest many things. ‘Before the music that tears slowly in his mind an old wound open’. The immediate interpretation the reader comes up with is that, either, the music reminds him of someone special from his past or the ‘drifting’ girls cause an ache in his heart because their grace and love for dancing is similar to that of his lost love. However, if looking deeper, one can translate this quote into a metaphor of Farmhand’s pain. The music imitates the Sun as his wound opens to the melody as ‘flowers’ bloom to the Sun. This use of such a metaphor is not ineffectual as it ensures the reader understands that such heartbreak is inevitable. It also stresses the character’s grief alluding his pain to girls as ‘flowers’ to accentuate their beauty. This term suggests that Farmhand is neglected by those who despise his appearance.
The third stanza talks of his physical appearance as being unsuitable for ‘dancing or love-making’. However, these very features make him excellent at what he does on the field. His ‘hairy hands’, which are presumably inept around females’ delicate figures, are extremely efficient when ‘forking stooks’. Baxter, again, links Farmhand’s characteristics to his natural environment, on the farm, where everything is fluent and works as it should. ‘But rather earth-wave breaking’ is directly focused on the nature of the ocean, indicating the motion of the earth being ploughed- this suggests another one of Farmhand’s jobs on the farm. ‘Crops as slow growing as his mind’ could refer to Farmhand being one of slow nature, just like the life on the farm. However, it is not actually mentioned that Farmhand is or was a fool. It could simply mean that Farmhand is a blasï¿½ figure.
The fourth stanza tells the reader of Farmhand’s ‘awkward hopes’ and ‘envious dreams’. This stanza allows the reader to recognise that Farmhand is sensitive and does want someone to ‘run fingers through his sandy hair’ and ‘giggle at his side’, the way he sees ‘Sunday couples’ each weekend. ‘Awkward hopes’ signifies many things. It could, for example, mean that he is not comfortable around females, as they are not natural in his life; therefore it is ‘awkward’ for him to be around them or ‘hope’ to be. Or it could be that Farmhand is a middle-aged man and his fantasies are those of a younger man, again, making it awkward. ‘Envious dreams’ suggests that he envies those ‘Sunday couples’ and longs for his own relationship. ‘Hopes’ and ‘dreams’ are connotations of ambition, yet, Farmhand doesn’t share them with his friends, maybe because he finds them embarrassing or humiliating. However, it is evident that Farmhand, although at unease around them, clearly appreciates females as he always turns to gaze at them.
The last stanza informs the reader of Farmhand as masculine as ‘effortless and strong’ doing what he does best, where no one cares about his appearance as it is only his abilities that matter on the farm.
Farmhand is a poem about a man who was rejected by someone he loved, most probably, because of his physical appearance, turning him to isolation and making him become unselfconfident.
It seems that Farmhand is pushed away, unlike Lucy who stays away. Farmhand feels rejected by women because of his inhuman, unappealing features which are the result of his love for work on the farm.
Both characters are expressed through an effective use of imagery such as metaphors (‘a violet by a mossy stone’), similes (‘Fair as a star’/’Listening like a lover’), assonance (‘dove’, ‘none’, ‘love’). Rhyme (‘strong’-‘song’, ‘making’-‘breaking’/ ‘Dove’-‘love’, ‘eye’-‘sky’). Such simplicities in a poem create profound depth and make them all the more eloquent.
I, personally, like ‘She Dwelt among Untrodden Ways’ better than ‘Farmhand’ as it gives the reader something to contemplate upon. This is because the story in the poem is of a young woman who lived alone, had no one to hold, didn’t notice those who cared, wasn’t noticed by anyone herself and died young. This causes the reader to feel empathetic towards her, also allowing one to realise that life is too short to lived alone, unspoken. The poet, Wordsworth, is expressing his sorrow in this poem, showing hints of regret that he didn’t tell her how he felt and how he realised that he’d never get that chance again. The moral of this is that if there’s an opportunity at something greater in life, take it…you might not get that chance again. However, ‘Farmhand’ also has its own moral which is to not judge others by their appearance. Farmhand was and in turned out that he was a sensitive, diligent man.