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Tone in The Lucy Poems

Tone Examples in The Lucy Poems:

Strange fits of passion have I known

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"In one of those sweet dreams I slept, Kind Nature's gentlest boon! And, all the while, my eyes I kept On the descending moon...."   (Strange fits of passion have I known)

Wordsworth clues the reader into the possibility that the poem’s events and characters exist in a dream. The appearance of the moon earlier in the poem and its association with the idealized love object suggest a dreamy, imaginary atmosphere. This stanza confirms that the speaker’s journey is more figurative than literal. This tension between fantasy and reality is a key theme in the Lucy poems.

"Upon the moon I fixed my eye, All over the wide lea;..."   (Strange fits of passion have I known)

The appearance of the moon gives the poem a nocturnal setting. More importantly, it adds a dreamlike atmosphere, inviting the reader to call into question the reality of the narrative.

"But in the lover's ear alone, What once to me befel...."   (Strange fits of passion have I known)

The speaker identifies the addressee: “the lover’s ear alone.” The “lover” here is an archetype that represents all who have loved. This narrowing of the audience lends the poem a tone of privacy.

"And hers shall be the breathing balm, And hers the silence and the calm Of mute insen sate things...."   (Three years she grew in sun and shower (The Education of Nature))

Wordsworth once again plays with sense perception, evoking the reader’s breath and sense of smell with reference to the fragrant “breathing balm.” The following lines bring a hushed tone, evoking the sense of hearing. Given Lucy’s representative role as poetic muse, this stanza illustrates the vast range of experiences poetry can convey, from the vibrancy of the fawn to the mute calmness of “insensate things.”

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