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William wordworth

The lucy poems


Strange fits of passion have I known
"Strange fits of passion have I known" is a seven-stanza poem ballad by the English Romantic poet William Wordsworth. Composed during a sojourn in Germany in 1798, the poem was first published in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads (1800).[1] The poem describes the poet's trip to his beloved Lucy's cottage, and his thoughts on the way. Each of its seven stanzas is four lines long and has a rhyming scheme of a-b-a-b. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter. In the poem, the speaker narrates a nighttime ride to the cottage of his beloved Lucy, who always looks as "fresh as a rose in June". The speaker begins by saying that he has experienced "strange fits of passion" and will recount them only to another lover ("in the Lover's ear alone, / What once to me befell."). In the five following stanzas, he recounts how he wended his way on horseback "beneath an evening-moon". He crossed a lea, passed through an orchard, and began to climb a hill, atop which was Lucy's cottage. As he "came near, and nearer still" to "Lucy's cot", the sinking moon appeared to follow suit. As he closely approaches the cottage, the moon vanishes from sight behind the roof. A morbid thought rises unbidden to the speaker's mind: "O mercy!" he thinks. "If Lucy should be dead!" "Strange fits of passion have I known" is simple in form but complex in content. The dramatic first stanza (the speaker "will dare to tell" of his "strange fits of passion," but "in the Lover's ear alone") quickly captivates the reader. Wordsworth then creates tension by juxtaposing the sinking moon and the approaching rider, the familiar landscape with the speaker's strange, dreamy feelings.[2] It is uncertain whether the Lucy of the poem was based on a historical person or was a creation of Wordsworth's fertile imagination. If she is real, her surname and identity are unknown, though they have been the subject of much "diligent speculation" in literary circles. "The one certainty is that she is not the girl of Wordsworth's 'Lucy Gray'."[3] An earlier version of this poem ended with an extra verse:
I told her this: her laughter light Is ringing in my ears: And when I think upon that night My eyes are dim with tears.[4]

Strange fits of passion have I known

Summary
The speaker proclaims that he has been the victim of strange fits of passion; he says that he will describe one of these fits, but only if he can speak it in the Lovers ear alone. Lucy, the girl he loved, was beautifulfresh as a rose in Juneand he traveled to her cottage one night beneath the moon. He stared at the moon as his horse neared the paths to Lucys cottage. As they reached the orchard, the moon had begun to sink, nearing the point at which it would appear to the speaker to touch Lucys house in the distance. As the horse plodded on, the speaker continued to stare at the moon. All at once, it dropped behind the cottage roof. Suddenly, the speaker was overcome with a strange and passionate thought, and cried out to himself: O mercy! If Lucy should be dead!

Form
The stanzas of Strange fits of passion have I known fit an old, very simple ballad form, employed by Wordsworth to great effect as part of his project to render common speech and common stories in poems of simple rhythmic beauty. Each stanza is four lines long, each has alternating rhymed lines (an ABAB rhyme scheme), and each has alternating metrical lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, respectivelywhich means that the first and third lines of the stanza have four accented syllables, and the second and fourth lines have only three.

Commentary
This direct, unadorned lyric is one of the most striking and effective of the many simple lyrics like it, written by Wordsworth in the mid to late 1790s and included in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. This little poem, part of a sequence of short lyrics concerning the death of the speakers beloved Lucy, actually shows extraordinary sophistication and mastery of technique. The sophistication lies in the poets grasp of human feeling, chronicling the sort of inexplicable, half-fearful, morbid fantasy that strikes everyone from time to time but that, before Wordsworth, was not a subject poetry could easily incorporate. The technique lies in the poets treatment of his theme: like a storyteller, Wordsworth dramatizes in the first stanza the act of reciting his tale, saying that he will whisper it, but only in the ear of a lover like himself. This act immediately puts the reader in a sympathetic position, and sets the actual events of the poems story in the past, as opposed to the present, in which the poet speaks his poem. This sets up the death-fantasy as a subject for observation and analysisrather than simply portraying the events of the story, Wordsworth essentially says, This happened to me, and isnt it strange that it did? But of course it is not really strange; it happens to everyone; and this disjunction underscores the readers automatic identification with the speaker of the poem. Also like a storyteller, Wordsworth builds suspense leading up to the climax of his poem by tying his speakers reverie to two inexorable forces: the slowly sinking moon, and the slowly plodding horse, which travels hoof after hoof, just as the moon comes near, and nearer still to the house where Lucy lies. The recitation of the objects of the familiar landscape through which the speaker travelsthe paths he loves, the orchard-plot, the roof of the househeightens the unfamiliarity of the strange fit of passion into which the speaker is plunged by the setting moon.