10 Most Famous Wordsworth Poems With Short Analysis

William Wordsworth (April 7, 1770 – April 23, 1850) was an English poet whose poetry is still widely read. He is closely associated with the Romanticism movement in literature, whose writers emphasized on emotion, individualism and idealization of nature, among other things. Along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Wordsworth is credited with launching the Romantic Age in English literature, which dominated western literary output in the first half of the 19th century. In keeping with Romanticism, Wordsworth’s poetry mostly focuses on nature, emotion and the materialization caused by the Industrial Revolution. He believed that poetry should be written in “language really used by men”, that is, the language used in real life. Moreover, he thought that poetry should be “the spontaneous overflow of feelings” and related to “situations from common life”. Know more about the poetry of Wordsworth through his 10 most famous poems and their short analysis.

#10 London, 1802

Type:Petrarchan Sonnet
Published:1807

Poem:-

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

Analysis:-

A Petrarchan sonnet consists of an octave (“first eight lines”), which introduces a problem; and a sestet (“last six lines”), which provides some kind of resolution. Wordsworth begins this sonnet by wishing that John Milton, the famous 17th century English poet who wrote Paradise Lost, was alive. He believes that England is in dire straits and needs its former great poet to restore its past glory. England has become stagnant as a swamp (‘fen’) with the church (‘altar’), the military (‘sword’), the literary (‘pen’), the household (‘fireside’) and the economy not being in keeping with England’s glorious past. Wordsworth refers to the present English society, including himself, as selfish. He calls Milton to return from the dead and endow to the present generation noble qualities like ‘virtue’ and ‘freedom’.

Wordsworth begins the sestet by praising Milton, comparing his soul to a star. Moreover, he considers Milton’s writing to be deep and insightful as ‘the sea’; and precise and free like ‘the naked heavens’. Wordsworth ends the poem by complimenting the humble nature of Milton perhaps suggesting how this quality is to be appreciated the most. As the sestet provides the resolution of the issue, Wordsworth might be suggesting that humility is the apt starting step for the English society to revive itself.


#9 We Are Seven

Type:Ballad
Published:1798

Excerpt:-

———A simple Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad:
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
—Her beauty made me glad.

Read Full Poem Here

Analysis:-

A ballad is a poem that tells a story. Traditionally it contains four line stanzas and is set to music. We Are Seven narrates a conversation between an adult and a “little cottage girl”, who refuses to not count her dead siblings among her family members. The poem begins with the narrator describing the ‘eight years old’ girl and soon he asks her: “Sisters and brothers, little Maid, How many may you be?”. The girl replies that they are seven in all. As the conversation goes on, the speaker realizes that two of her siblings are dead. For the rest of the poem, he tries to reason with her that “ye are only five” but, till the end of the poem, the girl is adamant that: “Nay, we are seven!”. The poem remains popular for its simple narrative and complex implications.


#8 Composed upon Westminster Bridge

Type:Petrarchan Sonnet
Published:1807

Poem:-

Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Analysis:-

“Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802” was actually composed on July 31, 1802 and this was corrected in later editions. Westminster Bridge is a bridge over the River Thames in London, linking Westminster to Lambeth. The poem describes the view of London from the bridge on the morning of the above mentioned date. In it, Wordsworth repetitively compares the sight of London before him with nature. Among other things, he states that the sun never shone on the natural landscape (‘valley, rock, or hill’) more beautifully than it now shines on the city of London. William Wordsworth is best known as a poet who celebrates natural beauty and this poem remains exceptional as in it he praises the beauty of man-made structures.



#7 Ode: Intimations of Immortality

Type:Pindaric Ode
Published:1807

Excerpt:-

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
       The earth, and every common sight,
                          To me did seem
                      Apparelled in celestial light,
            The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
                      Turn wheresoe'er I may,
                          By night or day.
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

Read Full Poem Here

Analysis:-

“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” is a lyric poem in the form of an ode. The title of the work suggests that recollections from early childhood gives the narrator intimations (hints) of immortality. The poem is based on the idea that the soul exists even without the body; after death and before life. The narrator thus believes that a child has the ability to connect with the divine in nature as the soul in him is not yet corrupted with worldly knowledge. The poem is divided into three parts. The first part of four stanzas presents the problem of the poem, which is that the speaker is not able to connect with nature the same way as he could do in childhood. He states that ‘the things I have seen I can see no more’ and wonders ‘where is it now, the glory and the dream?’.

In the next part of four stanzas, the speaker presents a negative response to the problem. He primarily states how children are more close to nature and how adulthood makes us lose this precious gift. The last three stanzas, the third part, present a positive response to the issue. The speaker dwells on how his ability to remember his experiences from childhood provide him a kind of access to the divine. Although he has lost the child’s feeling of immortality, his recollections of childhood allow him to sympathize with fellow beings. Intimations of Immortality is ranked among the best works by Wordsworth and is referred to as the “Great Ode”.


#6 My Heart Leaps Up

Type:Lyric
Published:1807

Poem:-

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;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Analysis:-

This poem is a prime example of Wordsworth’s philosophy of using simple language and of conveying relatable situations. In it, the speaker describes the joy of viewing a rainbow. He begins by stating the feeling of delight he experiences when he sees a rainbow. He has experienced this for as long as he can remember and he would prefer death if it stops when he grows old. He then contemplates how children have much to teach the adults and how he wishes that all his days are filled with the same feeling of wonder he experienced in nature while he was a child. A short and simple poem, My Heart Leaps Up remains one of the best known works of Wordsworth with its line “The Child is father of the Man” being used in common parlance.



#5 The Solitary Reaper

Type:Ballad
Published:1807

Poem:-

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;—
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

analysis:-

The poem begins with the speaker noticing a girl who is all alone reaping a field and singing to herself. The poet is captivated by her voice and doesn’t want her to be disturbed; ‘stop here, or gently pass’. In the second stanza, he lauds her singing by putting it on a higher pedestal than cuckoo singing in spring or a nightingale delighting weary travelers in Arabia. The poet then wonders what she is singing as he doesn’t understand her dialect. On the basis of her tone, he speculates that she is singing a melancholy song either of some past unhappy things or recent loss or pain. The last stanza begins with the speaker deciding to not dwell on the theme of her song. He ends the poem by stating that the music he heard has remained with him in his heart. The Solitary Reaper was inspired by a trip to Scotland taken by Wordsworth in 1803. It has since remained one of his most widely read poems.


#4 The World Is Too Much with Us

Type:Petrarchan Sonnet
Published:1807

Poem:-

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

Analysis:-

This poem should be read in context of the Industrial Revolution, when the world was undergoing a drastic change due to industrialization. The speaker begins by stating that people have become too involved in worldly things concentrating on earning money and spending it. While doing so, they have lost touch of their ability to connect with nature. He calls this materialistic state ‘sordid boon’ where one seemingly progresses but becomes unfeeling. The poet goes on to describe a few beautiful natural phenomenon which we are unable to appreciate now as ‘we are out of tune’ with nature. In the sestet, the speaker changes his line of thought asking ‘Great God’ to rather make him a pagan (a follower of a polytheist religion) than to make him suffer the present state. He concludes by stating how he would be happier in ancient Greece where he could stand on grass and have a glimpse of nature. Wordsworth here is perhaps suggesting that he would trade the progress their civilization has made (from paganism to Christianity by his belief) for being closer to nature.



#3 Tintern Abbey

Type:Blank Verse
Published:1798

Excerpt:-

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.

Read Full Poem Here

analysis:-

“Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey”, referred to usually as just Tintern Abbey, is a Topographical poem or a poem that describes a landscape or place. Tintern Abbey is situated in the village of Tintern in Monmouthshire, on the Welsh bank of the River Wye. However, it doesn’t feature in the poem. The poem begins with the speaker returning to a particular spot after five years and stating that it still is as beautiful as it was before. Remembering the beautiful landscape here helped him find solace when he was troubled in the modern world. The speaker compares how five years earlier he was in a hurry to imbibe everything of this beautiful sight but now he understands that nature has more value than the momentary peace it provides. In the last stanza, the poet reveals that he has been speaking to his sister Dorothy. He urges his sister to remember the blessings of nature and also this visit they have made together. Tintern Abbey is one of the most influential poems written by Wordsworth; and it is still widely read and analyzed.


#2 The Prelude

Type:Blank Verse
Published:1850

Excerpt:-

—Was it for this
That one, the fairest of all Rivers, lov'd
To blend his murmurs with my Nurse's song,
And from his alder shades and rocky falls,
And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice
That flow'd along my dreams? For this, didst Thou,
O Derwent! travelling over the green Plains
Near my 'sweet Birthplace', didst thou, beauteous Stream
Make ceaseless music through the night and day
Which with its steady cadence, tempering
Our human waywardness, compos'd my thoughts
To more than infant softness, giving me,
Among the fretful dwellings of mankind,
A knowledge, a dim earnest, of the calm
That Nature breathes among the hills and groves.
When, having left his Mountains, to the Towers
Of Cockermouth that beauteous River came,
Behind my Father's House he pass'd, close by,
Along the margin of our Terrace Walk.
He was a Playmate whom we dearly lov'd.
Oh! many a time have I, a five years' Child,
A naked Boy, in one delightful Rill,
A little Mill-race sever'd from his stream,
Made one long bathing of a summer's day,
Bask'd in the sun, and plunged, and bask'd again
Alternate all a summer's day, or cours'd
Over the sandy fields, leaping through groves
Of yellow grunsel, or when crag and hill,
The woods, and distant Skiddaw's lofty height,
Were bronz'd with a deep radiance, stood alone
Beneath the sky, as if I had been born
On Indian Plains, and from my Mother's hut
Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport,
A naked Savage, in the thunder shower.

Read The Full Poem Here

Analysis:-

An epic is a long poem narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic or legendary figures. The Prelude is a long poem but it may not be classified as an epic because its central figure is not a heroic character but the author. It is an autobiographical poem describing Wordsworth’s thoughts from childhood and how he changed and grew over time. The primary focus of the poem is his interactions with nature that ‘assure[d] him of his poetic mission.’ Importance of childhood and the author’s spiritual development are other important themes of the poem. Wordsworth started writing The Prelude at the age of 28 in 1798 and continued to work on it throughout his life. Its final version was published three months after his death in 1850. Wordsworth referred to it as “the poem on the growth of my own mind”. The Prelude is considered as the masterpiece of Wordsworth by many critics with one calling it the greatest English long poem after Paradise Lost.


#1 Daffodils

Type:Lyric
Published:1807

Poem:-

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Analysis:-

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, commonly known as “Daffodils”, is the one of the most famous poems in English literature and it is considered a classic of English romantic poetry. Wordsworth was inspired to write the poem on encountering a long belt of Daffodils while taking a walk with his sister Dorothy in April 1802. The poem begins with the speaker wandering alone and discovering a cluster of ‘golden daffodils’. The speaker compares them to the shining stars and states how they seem abundant and ‘never-ending’. With these beautiful ‘dancing’ daffodils, the poet couldn’t help but feel elated. In the last stanza, the speaker states that how that beautiful sight has remained with him and how he often feels exhilarated when he remembers ‘the daffodils’. The most famous poem by Wordsworth, Daffodils came fifth in a poll conducted by BBC titled “Nation’s Favourite Poems”.



3 thoughts on “10 Most Famous Wordsworth Poems With Short Analysis”

  1. As a school student in village school with mediam of instruction Punjabi also called Gurmukhi , we had in 8th class few english poems of William Wordsworth The solitary reaper & others. With little knowledge of english , I did not undestand the meanings of this poem but I wonder how this touched my heart , I could feel a lonely farmer in scorching heat ,cutting harvest & singing.
    Surprisingly , I started humming the poem lines & then singing . My class fellows will often ask me to sing this poem & I immediately getting up going near black board & enjoyed singing loudly which followed by huge clappings . Now as sr citizen , my children often ask me to sing that poem , I do oblige some times . it has become part of my life ……Wordsworth will always be remembered ……

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