The Art of Hopping

       Romantic poetry often focuses on the beauty of nature, the value of individual thoughts, and the power found in complexities. In a time where writing is largely a product of revolution, new thoughts and ideas are essential to the foundation of this new era of writing. Wordsworth explores all of these things in his poem, Lines Written in Early Spring, but goes beyond just recognizing beauty, or being excited about new ideas. Instead, this poem reflects the interconnected nature of all living things in the universe, as the speaker in the poem grapples with their own state of being, leading them to consider things around them that would otherwise be seen as something unimportant, like the thoughts of birds.

       The first stanza introduces the speaker’s environment, and slightly confused mental state; but it also breaks the otherwise consistent rhyme scheme of ABAB found throughout the rest of the poem. The speaker notes the thousands of “blended notes” they hear coming from the birds around them as they appreciate the harmony found in the nature around them (L. 1). Then follows this thought by their slight distress at the fact that “pleasant thoughts/ Bring sad thoughts to mind” (L.3-4). When considering the poem as a whole, the inconsistent rhyming between “notes” and “thoughts” actually allows the contradiction found in the speaker’s emotional state to seep into the form of the writing itself. The entire rhyme scheme pairs the final words of alternating lines, and despite the fact that the words in lines 1 and 3 are not direct rhymes, the pairing of “blended notes” and “thoughts” interested me. Maybe, the inconsistent form is meant to draw attention to the fact that the speaker’s thoughts break the “blend” and harmony found in his tranquil surroundings, where birds “hop and play” (L. 13). Much like how the literal presence and sound of the word “thoughts” breaks the rhyme scheme. This highlights one of the major themes within the poem, which is the speaker’s realization of complexity, both in himself, and in nature. The speaker recognizes the presence of emotional multiplicities first in themself, but then later in the birds.

         The hopping of the birds mentioned in line 13 is mirrored by the speaker’s words through the form of the poem itself. The rhyme scheme is significant to the connection between man and nature once again in that the rhyming of words “hops” between lines. The alternation of rhyming words as a result of the ABAB system is much like a bird that hops from one place to the next. Starting at one place, taking off, skipping over a short stretch of land, and then landing firmly at a spot not far in front of where the “hop” was started. The speaker feels that their soul becomes linked to nature (L. 5-6), this link is also forged in the form of the retelling itself. The speaker “cannot measure” (L.13) the bird’s thoughts, much like he cannot measure their own. Even the birds, as they play and hop only seem to display the “thrill of pleasure” (L. 16) 

       In forming a connection between the pleasant view of hopping birds, and the sadness the speaker finds in normal pleasant things, Wordsworth leaves audiences with a poem that shows that admiring nature is only scratching the surface of what the living things on earth actually have to offer. Even suggesting that the most pleasant things can be often correlated with corruption, sadness or other complete opposite feelings. To stop at something’s surface beauty or outward display of emotion deprives the onlooker of a certain “truth” that is apparent when one looks beyond initial appearances. 

One thought on “The Art of Hopping”

  1. Excellent title, and more importantly, excellent insight about the purpose of breaking the rhyme scheme with “thoughts.” I wonder too whether that is Wordsworth’s formal way of establishing a difference between the speaker and nature. Is the speaker really as connected to nature as the second stanza seems to indicate? He may merely desire to be, as there are some pretty clear differences between Wordsworth’s treatments of humanity and nature here. The speaker’s “thoughts,” after all, break the rhyme scheme, while the “thoughts” of the birds do not.

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