An Emotional Bond

In the poem “The Thorn,” William Wordsworth continues the romantic emphasis on nature while connecting it to humanity and emotions. Wordsworth fills this poem with descriptive imagery of the thorn itself and the nature surrounding it. The second stanza states, “Like rock or stone, it is o’ergrown / With lichens to the very top / And hung with heavy tufts of moss, / A melancholy crop,” (l. 12-15). The image of the plant-covered stone paired with the word “melancholy,” make me think of old headstones left to the elements, unattended. In the third stanza the speaker solidifies this imagery by comparing the area where the thorn and moss are growing to a baby’s grave (l. 52). One thing that I noticed in this section was how the moss was described. Wordsworth devotes the fourth and fifth stanzas to this “lovely sight” (l. 35) and the  “beauteous dyes” of the moss (l. 51). When comparing this bed of moss to a baby’s grave Wordsworth writes, “But never, never, anywhere / An infant’s grave was half so fair!” (l. 54-55). Graves and headstones are meant to serve as a memorial to the dead. By comparing the bed of moss to a grave, Wordsworth implies a deep bond between Nature and humanity. This is because Nature is acting as the memorial of a human life, which now buried in the earth, provides for Nature.

There also seems to be a sense of comfort in nature within this poem. When Martha Ray was left by her lover, she went to the mountains. After she lost her baby, she continued to go to the mountains. After each of these heartbreaking and most likely traumatic experiences, Martha Ray has gone to the same place making it seem that the nature serves as an escape or at least a place where she can voice her pain more freely without others around. Wordsworth writes, “At all times of the day and night / This wretched woman thither goes, / And she is known to every star, / And every wind that blows,” (l. 67-70). By using the word “known,” Wordsworth makes it seem that the nature around Martha Ray is there to support her in a sense. A few lines latter Wordsworth writes that no matter the weather, Martha Ray always goes into the mountains to the spot where the thorn and moss grow (l. 71-77). The elements don’t seem to affect Martha Ray in this passage and makes me think that instead she finds some comfort in the nature around her since she is able to persevere so easily.

One thought on “An Emotional Bond”

  1. I agree with your analysis of the poem and there is one other thing I noticed about it. There is definitely significance in the role nature plays in this poem, and I wanted to point specifically to how this depressing and somewhat ugly thorn is surrounded by beauty. The poem’s imagery depicts the perfect sublime romantic setting only to have the thorn disrupting it. The thorn sits atop a beautiful hill, which reminds readers of Martha’s lover’s name, Stephen Hill. Just like Hill seemed to provide a perfect, harmonious, and beauteous future for Martha, only to be ruined by his infidelity, the wondrous hill is ruined by the unsightly thorn. It is very reminiscent of the phrase “every rose has its thorns.”

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