Grove Thoughts

In Wordsworth’s “Lines Written in Early Spring”, he utilizes a consistent ABAB rhyme scheme in each of the six quatrains. This consistent and repetitive rhyme allows the reader to move easily through the poem, the true intention being for Wordsworth to elucidate his thoughts as inspired by his setting. The conclusion he reaches, represented through repetition and contrasts, is that nature is so wonderful it saddens him in remembrance of man’s contrasting faults due to his divergence from the cadence of nature. Wordsworth repeats the word “thoughts” four times over the course of the poem, and the verb form “think” is twice repeated. Thus, Wordsworth continually foregrounds the importance of his thoughts in the context he is describing; they are the true object of the work. In the first stanza, he immediately introduces the primary conflict, “While in a grove I sat reclined, /In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts/Bring sad thoughts to the mind” (l.3-4). It is already evident that the setting (pleasing nature) is instigating less pleasing personal thoughts within the speaker’s mind. Additionally, the first stanza is the only in which contrasting words like “pleasant” and “sad” are seen together, clearly presenting the conflict right away. Throughout the rest of the poem, positively connotated words are seen in each stanza that describes a specific nature scene, Wordsworth uses “Enjoys” while describing flowers in stanza 3, “pleasure” both when describing birds in stanza 4 and “budding twigs” in stanza 5. In strict contrast, the stanzas without specific nature imagery contain a repeated ponderance conjoined with negative phrases. At the end of stanza two, Wordsworth writes, “And much it grieved my heart to think/What man has made of man” (l.7-8). At the very end of the poem, he closes with similar lines, “Have I not reason to lament/What man has made of man?” (l.23-24). Thus, when nature is no longer the focal point of his experience, when retreating inside his mind, this is when the negative thoughts crop up within Wordsworth. His enjoyment of the scene before him pushes him to ponder his own role in the setting–that of man. He deliberately separates his descriptions and surface-level reaction to the different elements of the setting and his deeper thoughts into different stanzas, inserting the simplistic natural stanzas between the iterations of his question about the nature of mankind. Wordsworth thus makes the origin of his thoughts–a lament for the departure of man from the order of the natural world–clear while also maintaining a distance between his outer and inner mental workings.

2 thoughts on “Grove Thoughts”

  1. Although I also did an analysis of this Wordsworth poem, I did not recognize how frequently Wordsworth contrasted pleasure and dissatisfaction until you pointed out all of the times he uses this technique. I think it is important to note, however, that the main contrast, between the “pleasant thoughts” related to Nature and the “sad thoughts” related to humankind, presents opposition but not necessarily separation. You point out that the words “pleasant” and “sad” occur close together in the first stanza, which is a great observation, and I think it would be helpful to your analysis to explore the importance or meaning of placing these binaries close together. You later make the claim that Wordsworth/the speaker separates their surface level descriptions from their deep thoughts, but I wonder if the “link” between Nature and Man, despite the contrasting pleasant and sad thoughts associated with each, actually reduces the separation of descriptive thoughts about Nature and their introspective thoughts about humankind.

  2. I was also very interested by the frequent repetition used throughout the poem. The abundance of the word “thought(s)” stood out to me the most; the repetition is particularly important to the emphasis of the primary conflict as you highlighted in your analysis. After your mention of the first stanza I re-read the poem and found that “thought” is present twice, written along with “thousand”. The repetition of the sound “thou-” could possibly be drawing a connection showing the abundance of conflicting thoughts and opinions the speaker is having. This really emphasizes your point that the speakers significant internal conflict is being made clear from the very beginning of the poem.

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