The Lucy Poems - I travelled among unknown men

I travelled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea;
Nor, England! did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.
'Tis past, that melancholy dream!
Nor will I quit thy shore
A second time; for still I seem
To love thee more and more.
Among thy mountains did I feel
The joy of my desire;
And she I cherished turned her wheel
Beside an English fire.
Thy mornings showed, thy nights concealed
The bowers where Lucy played;
And thine too is the last green field
That Lucy's eyes surveyed.

Footnotes

  1. The speaker is inspired only in and by England. The reference to the “green field” to which the muse turns her gaze singles out England’s natural landscapes as a particular source of inspiration. One is tempted to identify Wordsworth himself as the speaker, for he wrote often of the natural scenery of his native Lake District in England. The speaker’s two objects of love—Lucy and England—are intertwined. Her final gaze on England before her death seals this connection.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. 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.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. 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.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. In a way, this is a love poem to England. Having spent time abroad, the speaker vows to commit to England. The speaker’s love of country represents an important theme. As will become clear, England is also important to the speaker as the home of Lucy, the beloved muse figure.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. The speaker establishes the background of the narrative as well as the addressee. The speaker, addressing England itself, has returned home from travels abroad. The address to England is unique among the Lucy poems, which are otherwise addressed to an unknown audience. The speaker’s love of England, as a parallel to his for for Lucy, becomes one of the poem’s central themes.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff