GradeSaver (TM) ClassicNotes Wordsworth's Poetical Works: Study Guide
Home : Wordsworth's Poetical Works : Study Guide : Summary and Analysis of "Lines Written in Early Spring"

Wordsworth's Poetical Works Summary and Analysis

by William Wordsworth

"Lines Written in Early Spring"

In this poem Wordsworth describes a bittersweet moment. The speaker reclines in a beautiful grove surrounded by the "blended notes" of nature, and yet, even as he enjoys the scene, it inspires a melancholy mood and the speaker begins to have dark thoughts about humanity:

I heard a thousand blended notes,

While in a grove I sate reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

Nature has connected itself to the speaker's soul, leading him to sadly consider "What man has made of man." Even as he does this, however, he takes in the beautiful scene that surrounds him:

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.


Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And 'tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.


The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure: --

But the least motion which they made,

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

At the end of the poem the speaker looks more closely at the seemingly jubilant birds, plants, and other creatures of nature, trying to decide whether or not they are really full of pleasure. He decides that they are. In the last stanza, he asks whether, if it is true that nature is full of pleasure, he then has a good reason to be sad about "what man has made of man":

The budding twigs spread out their fan,

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.


If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature's holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What man has made of man?

Analysis

"Lines Written in Early Spring" has a rather simple form: it is composed of only six four-line stanzas, and is written in iambs with an abab rhyme scheme for each stanza. The simplicity of the poem is representative of the bulk of the rest of Wordsworth's works (and of most Romantic poetry). The simple words and style of the Romantic Movement came from a complete rejection of the flowery, lofty style that was popular in previous years.

The connection with nature in this poem is very apparent. Wordsworth strengthens the bond by placing the speaker in the middle of nature, all alone except for the plants and animals around him. He also personifies nature, giving her the ability to make decisions, to link herself to his soul, and to experience pleasure. Nature, in this poem, does everything right; it is man who has failed by rejecting nature.

Another interesting aspect of this poem is the fact that the perfection of nature saddens the speaker. Melancholy sets in almost immediately because of the striking contrast between nature and humanity. The speaker seems to feel that it is his responsibility to ponder the mistakes of humanity. This is especially evident in the question posed in the last stanza.

The speaker suggests that man can simultaneously be a part of nature and rational, in control of himself, and in control of his surroundings. The speaker is a thoughtful being, a philosopher of sorts, and is certainly reasonable, and yet he is at peace with nature in a way that would likely strike many of his contemporaries as odd.

Wordsworth's Poetical Works Essays and Related Content