Wordsworth's Poetical Works

The Act of Travel in Wordsworth’s “I travelled among unknown men”

Wordsworth’s “I travelled among unknown men” appears at first to be a tribute to a woman he loved and a poem of patriotism. It is initially unclear how Lucy and England are similar beyond being things that are ultimately important to him. Through further interpretations, it becomes evident that Wordsworth used specific tools such as personification and images of nature to connect the two beyond the reader’s first reaction. After the reader realizes how Lucy and England are tied together, the feelings of loss that Wordsworth’s “melancholy” experience of travel are connected with his feelings towards the death of Lucy as a travel experience and not just a deportation from his life. This poem is in turn not a statement about life and love, but a statement about death as a permanent journey.

In the first two stanzas Wordsworth chooses not to mention Lucy in efforts to put emphasis on the importance of his love and devotion for England. He resolves to have not understood “what love [he] bore to [England]” (4) until he left England to travel to other lands. He describes his travelling adventures as a “melancholy dream” (5) and promises to not “quit [England’s] shore/A second time” (6-7). In making this promise, he is recognizing not...

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