Wordsworth's Poetical Works

An Apparition in William Wordsworth’s “The Thorn” College

Despite being published in 1798, William Wordsworth’s “The Thorn” gracefully tackles many topics still controversial today in the 21st century. Themes such as pregnancy out of wedlock, murder, abortion, and ghosts are presented and addressed. Wordsworth uses detailed scenery as well as character ambiguity to cause the reader to believe that Martha Ray is merely an apparition guarding the grave of her infant son.

The narrator sets up the poem by describing the horrid ugliness of a thorn not even as high as his knees, growing on an extravagant mossy hill. He illustrates the lovely, eye-catching colors of: “This heap of earth o’ergrown with moss,/Which close beside the thorn you see,/So fresh in all its beauteous dyes,” (Wordsworth 104). In contrast with the spectacular scenery, he begins to mention and romanticize a small plot of land that appears to be a grave fit for an infant child. The narrator appears to become infatuated with not only the grave, but the history behind it as well.

In stanza VII, he says:

“At all times of the day and night

This wretched woman thither goes,

And she is known to every star,

And every wind that blows;” (Wordsworth 105).

At this point in the poem, we...

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