The "Lucy poems" have been parodied numerous times since their first publication. These were generally intended to ridicule the simplification of textual complexities and deliberate ambiguities in poetry. They also questioned the way many 19th-century critics sought to establish definitive readings. According to Jones, such parodies commented in a "meta-critical" manner and themselves present an alternative mode of criticism. Among the more notable is the one by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's son Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849), called "On William Wordsworth" or simply "Imitation", as in the 1827 version published for The Inspector magazine ("He lived amidst th' untrodden ways / To Rydal Lake that lead; / A Bard whom there were none to praise / And very few to read" lines 1–4). Parody also appears in the 1888 murder-mystery reading of the poem by Victorian author Samuel Butler (1835–1902). Butler believed Wordsworth's use of the phrase "the difference to me!" was overly terse, and remarked that the poet was "most careful not to explain the nature of the difference which the death of Lucy will occasion him to be ... The superficial reader takes it that he is very sorry she was dead ... but he has not said this." Not every work referring to the "Lucy poems" is intended to mock, however; the novelist and essayist Mary Shelley (1797–1851) drew upon the poems to comment on and re-imagine the Romantic portrayal of femininity.
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