The Lucy Poems by William Wordsworth

‘Lucy poems’ refer to a group of five poems by William Wordsworth, most of which were written in Germany in the exceptionally cold winter of 1798-9. This group includes ‘She dwelt among the untrodden ways’, ‘Strange fits of passion have I known’, ‘A slumber did my spirit seal’, ‘Three years she grew in sun and shower’ and ‘I travelled among unknown men’. The first four were published in the Lyrical Ballads of 1800. The fifth one, ‘I travelled among unknown men’, was sent in a letter in 1801 to Mary Hutchinson (later Wordsworth’s wife), and published in 1807. The poems are remarkable for their lyric intensity and purity, and the identity of Lucy has aroused much speculation; in ‘Strange Fits of Passion’ she appears to be identified with Dorothy Wordsworth (who was with him in Germany), but in other poems, she is presented as having died.

In a letter to Thomas Poole (1766-1837), Coleridge reflected that ‘Most probably, in some gloomier moment he had fancied the moment in which his sister might die’ (1799). The name Lucy is used in the ballad ‘Lucy Gray’, also written in Germany and published in 1800, where it is also associated with death and solitude.

Also read; A short note on Wordsworth’s indebtedness to the lovely spot of Nature around the river Wye.

Also read; Summary and critical analysis of the poem Yarrow Unvisited by William Wordsworth