Sometimes you feel like no one cares about you – like everyone is indifferent to your existence. Sometimes you feel really lonely and unloved.
Well, this is a feeling that many can relate to, especially in the modern era. With the rise of technology and the loss of human contact, this is accentuated: the individual faces alienation as they become a mere asset, losing their uniqueness: you’re only a student, an employee, a male/female, etc. Your identity is lost and your individuality becomes irrelevant.
Well, William Wordsworth recognised this problem all the way back in the 19th century. In particular, he recognised a woman named Lucy whose isolation and loneliness he empathised with. The true identity of this female is unknown, but what is known is that the poet, at least through his ‘Lucy poems’, shows real caring and love towards her.
So in this article, we’re gonna explore one of those poems called ‘She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways’.
“She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,”
The poet starts off by telling us that this woman was following some unconventional path – either she had different thoughts about life, she just lived separately, or she didn’t fit in with the rest.
We also notice the mention of “springs”. This may indicate to us the beauty & delicateness of the female. It also may point to us that she lived in a natural, possibly remote setting.
“A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:”
Notice how “Maid” is capitalised. You don’t usually capitalise a common noun. This indicates that the poet is talking about someone in particular who he holds as special. It’s a way of showing respect to her.
Also, “maid” in the past would generally refer to a young or unmarried female. Hence, this gives us an understanding that males didn’t approach her or she rejected them. Maybe she felt she wasn’t deserving or her ways were not accepted by others.
Not to say that she needed a man. But at least somebody who cared about her. If you look at the lines, they say “whom there were none to praise / And very few to love:”. This may imply that the poet noticed genuinely good qualities in her (at least according to him). But no one appreciated them and she barely had anyone who loved her.
“A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!”
“Violet” here tells us that she was probably beautiful, since she’s being compared to a flower. She had a natural beauty which the poet admired.
Also, a violet could be seen as an atypical flower to compare a woman to. You would usually have lovers compare their beloved to a rose. But no, the poet chooses an unusual option – a violet. This makes us understand the unconventional beauty and qualities she possessed.
A violet is usually hidden in some leaves. This makes the reference to violets more significant. Just like those flowers, she was unnoticed and hidden.
To add to that, the poet also compares her condition to being concealed because of a “mossy stone”. This supplements the already secluded image we have of her.
But of course, she is probably described as “half hidden” since she’s not so inconspicuous that she could be missed by the poet. Despite her isolation, the poet is a true admirer and notices her regardless of her location or habits (in anime terms, ‘notice me senpai’ achieved!)