Wordsworth's Poetical Works

Summary and Analysis of "Three years she grew"

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The poem begins with the personified Nature noticing Lucy at three years old. Nature thinks she is the most beautiful thing on earth, and promises to take her to make "A Lady of [her] own":

Three years she grew in sun and shower,

Then Nature said, "A lovelier flower

On earth was never sown;

This Child I to myself will take;

She shall be mine, and I will make

A Lady of my own.

Nature then expounds on what it means to be Nature's lady for several stanzas. Nature promises to make Lucy into a part of nature itself. She will be a part of the rocks, the earth, the heaven, the glades, the mountain springs, the clouds, the trees, and the storms. In addition, Lucy will fully enjoy nature and understand it. It will be as if they are in constant communication:

Myself will to my darling be

Both law and impulse: and with me

The Girl, in rock and plain,

In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,

Shall feel an overseeing power

To kindle or restrain.


She shall be sportive as the fawn

That wild with glee across the lawn,

Or up the mountain springs;

And her's shall be the breathing balm,

And her's the silence and the calm

Of mute insensate things.


The floating clouds their state shall lend

To her; for her the willow bend;

Nor shall she fail to see

Even in the motions of the Storm

Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form

By silent sympathy.


The stars of midnight shall be dear

To her; and she shall lean her ear

In many a secret place

Where rivulets dance their wayward round,

And beauty born of murmuring sound

Shall pass into her face.


And vital feelings of delight

Shall rear her form to stately height,

Her virgin bosom swell;

Such thoughts to Lucy I will give

While she and I together live

Here in this happy dell.

In the last stanza Nature declares that her work is done: she has fulfilled her promise to Lucy, letting her grow into a mature woman (as promised in the sixth stanza). The speaker declares, "How soon my Lucy's race was run!" When she dies, she leaves the speaker a calm scene to enjoy along with the beautiful memory of her:

Thus Nature spake--The work was done--

How soon my Lucy's race was run!

She died, and left to me

This heath, this calm, and quiet scene;

The memory of what has been,

And never more will be.

Analysis

"Three years she grew" is made up of seven six-line stanzas that each have an aabccb rhyme scheme. This poem is one of a set usually called the "Lucy Poems." The identity of Lucy has never been discovered.

Nature takes on an interesting role in this poem--she is beautiful and giving, and yet ultimately dictates the circumstances of Lucy's death. The poem becomes a beautiful elegy written to a woman who has died and who Wordsworth admired not only for her beauty, but also for her connection to nature, which Wordsworth felt was the highest possible achievement.

Also worthy of note is the fact that the speaker does not speak until the final stanza. For the first six stanzas he simply describes the declarations and promises of Nature. It is only in the end that the reader finally learns what happened to Lucy (she died as soon as she reached maturity) and why the speaker is writing the poem (out of grief).