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Wordsworth’s “Strange Fits Of Passion I Have Known”

1182 words - 5 pages

STRANGE FITS OF PASSION I HAVE KNOWN is a semiautobiographical poem by romantic poet William Wordsworth. Written in seventeen eighty nine, the poem depicts the image of a moonlight ride throughout the countryside to his lover’s, Lucy, cottage. During the trip, Wordsworth explores the sentiment driven feelings that accompany the (his) sensation of love. The poem is written in ballad form; Wordsworth purposely wrote his poetry in a simple and direct manner to contrast the elevated language of other poets of this period in an effort to bring forth the emotions of the reader. As a result, the poem becomes relatable allowing all readers to identify with the state of Wordsworth feelings in one way or another. The seven stanza poem has an ABAB rhyme scheme and is an iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, respectively - the first and third lines of each stanza have four emphasized syllables while the second and fourth lines have only three. This rhythmic structure gives the reader a feeling of the pace at which Wordsworth is moving on this Journey.

This particular poem is classified in a series of five poems by Wordsworth called “Lucy poems” which explored the ideals of beauty, love and death. Lucy Gray was believed to be loosely based on Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy, though there is speculation among literary scholars that “The one certainty is that she [the women in STRANGE FITS OF PASSION I HAVE KNOWN] is not the girl of Wordsworth's Lucy Gray” This is apparent in line one as he implies the women is his lover.
In the first stanza Wordsworth attempts to describe his “strange fits of passion” (line one), which would generally be difficult to define or understand in any ordinary context. Wordsworth addresses this problem in line two and three “I will dare to tell in lovers ear alone” as if to say the following won’t mean anything to you if you haven’t let yourself experience this. In the second stanza he describes his lover: “Fresh as a rose in June” (line six). This creates a connection between Wordsworth’s emotional state and the theme of nature seen in many of his poems. This theme suggests two things: The first implication is that Wordsworth’s feelings toward his lover are not manufactured or artificial in any way rather an organic occurrence similar to the growth of a rose in June. The second implication is that of transience, namely transience of beauty, Wordsworth is conscious of the fact that just as a rose will wither and die, so will her attractiveness and ultimately herself.

As the poem moves into stanza three, the reader is introduced to the notion of the moon: “Beneath an evening-moon. Upon the moon I fixed my eye,” (line eight and nine). As the voyage begins the moon is at a high point in the sky, as he is beneath it (line eight). Wordsworth’s journey to the cottage proceeds as the moon progressively falls from its original position as described in line fifteen and sixteen. He says, “The sinking moon to Lucy's cot Came near, and...

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