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Analyse 'simon Lee' By William Wordsworth And Comment On The Poetic Form And Language Used And The Way They Contribute To The Meaning And Effects Of The Poem

1615 words - 6 pages

‘Simon Lee, The Old Huntsman, With an incident in which he was concerned’ is a poem by William Wordsworth. Written in 1798 (Anthology p420), ‘Simon Lee’ was one of the poems included by Wordsworth in his Lyrical Ballads. The purpose or meaning of this poem is debatable, but in his own Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth says that he wishes to ‘follow the fluxes and refluxes of the mind when agitated by the great and simple affections of our nature’ in the case of Simon Lee, ‘by placing my reader in the way of receiving from ordinary moral sensations another and more salutary impression than we are accustomed to receive from them’ (Anthology, p85, l122 & 133). Wordsworth uses a variety of poetic techniques to ensure that his reader receives these ‘moral sensations’ and to aid them in understanding his purpose when writing Simon Lee.The poem is about an old huntsman, Simon Lee, he is aged, disabled and struggles through life with his wife Ruth. Once, Simon ‘all the country could outrun’ (‘Simon Lee’ l41), and he was known ‘four counties round’ (19). Now, they are the ‘poorest of the poor’ (60), their ‘hut of clay’ (57) has a small piece of land which they must toil on every day to try and survive, even though there is ‘very little, all Which they can do between them’ (55). The speaker in the poem one day happens across Simon struggling to cut through a tree root, he helps Simon and is then saddened by the deep gratitude that he is shown in return. Wordsworth wanted to display rustic or country life in his poems; he believed that there was honesty in the hearts of the poor that the more educated classes could learn from. To this end he employs ‘language really being used by men’ (Anthology p84 l66). Rustic terms are littered throughout the poem ‘shire’ (1), ‘husbandry’, ‘tillage’ (38), ‘mattock’ (85), this lends the speaker a real sense of authenticity, the reader can truly believe that somewhere there lives a man like Simon Lee, and the person telling us of him has lived in the same environment.The poem ‘Simon Lee’ is made up of thirteen stanzas, it is written in a variant form of the traditional ballad. Conventionally a ballad is formed of quatrains, the second and fourth lines rhyming, the lines are iambic, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one, with four stresses on the first and third lines and three on the second and fourth lines. The stanzas in Simon Lee are eight lines long, or octets, however there is a distinction within each stanza splitting them into two quatrains. The first set of four lines in each is written in rhyming couplets, the first three lines in iambic tetrameter, and the fourth cut short in iambic trimeter. The natural pause created by the missing foot at the end of the fourth line, separates this first quatrain from the second set of...

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