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Metaphor in The Lucy Poems

Metaphor Examples in The Lucy Poems:

Strange fits of passion have I known

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"And now we reached the orchard-plot, And, as we climbed the hill,..."   (Strange fits of passion have I known)

The “orchard-plot” is an intentional setting for the character of Lucy. The orchard, with its connotations of blooming life and fruitfulness, reflects the speaker’s sensual feelings for Lucy.

"A violet by a mossy stone..."   (She dwelt among the untrodden ways)

Here Wordsworth uses figurative language to compare the poem's subject, Lucy, to a beautiful flower: a violet. The violet serves as a metaphor for Lucy’s otherworldly beauty and purity, particularly when contrasted with the “mossy stone.”

"The bowers where Lucy played;..."   (I travelled among unknown men)

Wordsworth chooses the image of a bower—a place shaded by trees—as the location of the muse for two reasons. Metonymically, the natural world is a classic place of poetic inspiration, particularly for Wordsworth. Metaphorically, the bowers usefully evoke the shadowy nature of poetic inspiration: the poet pulls the words from darkness into light.

"And she I cherished turned her wheel Beside an English fire...."   (I travelled among unknown men)

Lucy first appears at her spinning wheel by an “English fire.” The suggestion here is that the speaker can only find poetic inspiration when at home in England. The symbol of the spinning wheel is important. The image of Lucy spinning wool into thread evokes an ancient metaphor. In Greek mythology, a person’s life story took the form of a thread, spun and cut by the goddesses of fate. In British usage, “yarn” serves as a synonym for story. Thus, Lucy controls the thread of the speaker’s poetic output.

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