Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower”by William Wordsworth

Summary of the Poem

“Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” is one of the best ‘lucy poems’ written by William Wordsworth the greatest and the most famous romantic poet. Wordsworth was a poet of nature and he worshipped nature in all its forms. He found a deep joy in the company of nature. He believed that the objects of nature give us permanent joy. He wrote a completely new approach to the writing of poetry, which for Wordsworth is ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ taking its origin from ’emotion recollected in its tranquillity’. With this view of poetry, he made ‘the incidents of common life look interesting’. He believed that poetry should be simple in theme and its language should be so simple as to be understood by the common man. That’s why his theory of poetic diction draws on ‘a selection from the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation.’ But it is not just physical pleasure that Wordsworth finds in nature; he believes that nature nourishes the emotional and spiritual life of man also. His poetry delineates his faith that man in constant and close communion with nature can lead a happy and peaceful life.

“Three Years She Grew in ………” is one of lucy poem, where the nurturing spirit of Nature is highlighted. The poem presents Wordsworth’s basic philosophy that nature shapes and moulds the character and personality of human begins. Hence, it is because of his conviction of the poet that Palgrave in his ‘Golden Treasury’ gives this poem the title of ‘The Education of Nature’ to this lyric; the story of Lucy is presented by Nature itself. There is a young girl named Lucy. She is very innocent and lovely. Nature sees the lovely child and decides to take her away from this world. Nature declares her resolve to bring up Lucy and carry out her intention by showering upon her its bounties of beauty and grace. Nature promises to act both as ‘impulse’ and as ‘law’ to the rustic child and, thus, educate her in her righteous ways and noble desires. Thus educated by nature she would naturally learn to restrain herself from excesses of thought and conduct. All natural objects such as rock, plains, earth, heaven, glades and bowers would exercise a very healthy influence on Lucy’s physical and moral growth. She would learn the happiness of a sportive fawn, the stateliness of the floating clouds, humility of the bending willow, grace of motions of the storm, the beauty of the stars of midnight, and the sweetness of the murmuring sound of flowing rivulets. This show all the objects and forces of nature would contribute to the physical and moral development of Lucy. Lucy will, in this way, grow into a beautiful woman. Nature thus accomplished her self-appointed task; but unfortunately, the girl suddenly died, leaving the poet in utter desolation.

Thus nature imparts education to Lucy and moulds her mind as well as her body. This poem is a fine example of Wordsworth’s cardinal belief in the moral value of a life of simplicity and the shaping power of nature. Written in stanzas of six lines each, with rhyme scheme aab ccb, the poem belongs to the category of a lyrical ballad. The loftiness of the theme, the simplicity of poetic diction, a pathetic touch at the end, a colouring of imagination are the main strengths of the poem. This is a typical, and thus representative, Wordsworthian poem.

Explanation with reference to the context:-

Stanza 1

Three years ……………………..……… a lady of my own

Reference to Context:-

These lines have been taken from the poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” written by William Wordsworth. In this poem, the nurturing spirit of Nature is highlighted. The poem presents William Wordsworth’s basic philosophy that Nature shapes and moulds the character and personality of human beings. In this lyric, the story of Lucy is presented by Nature itself. Nature decides to adopt a child named Lucy and makes her a perfect child. Here nature is described by William Wordsworth as ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’ and ‘the guardian’ of man. These are the opening lines of the poem.

Explanation:-

In these lines, the greatest romantic poet Wordsworth says that Lucy grew up amid nature for three years. Here Lucy is compared to a most beautiful flower because she is innocent and pure like a flower. She experienced all seasons like summer and rain. Nature decides to adopt Lucy as her own child. She decides that she would bring up Lucy according to her own plan. Here in this poem, we can see that nature is personified as mother who resolved to adopt rear and educate her child, Lucy, in her ‘own’ natural way as opposed to the artificial life of society. It shows Lucy’s affinity and oneness with nature.

Stanza 2

Myself will …………………………….…… or restrain

Reference to Context:-

These lines have been taken from the poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” written by William Wordsworth. In this poem, the nurturing spirit of Nature is highlighted. The poem presents William Wordsworth’s basic philosophy that Nature shapes and moulds the character and personality of human beings. In this lyric, the story of Lucy is presented by Nature itself. Nature decides to adopt a child named Lucy and makes her a perfect child. Here nature is described by William Wordsworth as ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’ and ‘the guardian’ of man.

Explanation:-

In these lines, Nature says that she herself will play the educative role in the growth of Lucy’s personality and character. Nature will act as ‘a nurse’, ‘a guide’ and ‘a guardian’ of Lucy. She will inspire Lucy to do noble things. Nature both impels Lucy to do good deeds and restrains her from doing evil. Lucy will move amid mountains, plains and the sky, valleys and Shady corners in the company of Nature. Nature will keep a watch on her activities at all places. In other words, Nature will act as Guardian and supervisor. It promises to supervise and guide Lucy’s education. Thus the poet highlights the nourishing impact of Nature on Lucy in close harmony with it.

Stanza 3

She shall be …………………………… mute insensate things

Reference to Context:-

These lines have been taken from the poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” written by William Wordsworth. In this poem, the nurturing spirit of Nature is highlighted. The poem presents William Wordsworth’s basic philosophy that Nature shapes and moulds the character and personality of human beings. In this lyric, the story of Lucy is presented by Nature itself. Nature decides to adopt a child named Lucy and makes her a perfect child. Here nature is described by William Wordsworth as ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’ and ‘the guardian’ of man.

Explanation:-

In these lines, Lucy is compared to a young deer. Wordsworth, through the romantic imagery of ‘sportive fawn,’ presents Lucy as an unusual phenomenon of extreme happiness that Joyfully jumps and runs across the grassy fields, valleys and mountains. She will breathe in the free open-air like the flowers. She will enjoy the silence and the calm in the sky in the company of the objects of nature, like rocks and the fields. The kindling power makes Lucy glad and happy as a playful deer and the restraining power gives her the calmness and serenity of the mountains among which she lives. Thus these lines propound the theory of ‘Education of Nature’.

Stanza 4

The floating clouds ………………..………… silent sympathy

Reference to Context:-

These lines have been taken from the poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” written by William Wordsworth. In this poem, the nurturing spirit of Nature is highlighted. The poem presents William Wordsworth’s basic philosophy that Nature shapes and moulds the character and personality of human beings. In this lyric, the story of Lucy is presented by Nature itself. Nature decides to adopt a child named Lucy and makes her a perfect child. Here nature is described by William Wordsworth as ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’ and ‘the guardian’ of man.

Explanation:-

In these lines, the poet says that the clouds that swim across the sky will give their beauty to Lucy. In other words, the clouds teach her the lesson of stateliness and majesty. The movements of the bending willow tree teach her true modesty. Wordsworth says that even the storm will act as a guide. Lucy will learn the gracefulness of motion from the storm. In other words, both the beautiful and terrible in Nature helps to mould the character of Lucy. In this stanza, we realise the fact that the child has now become a ‘maiden’ as a result of Nature’s education.

Stanza 5

The stars of midnight …….………………… pass into her face

Reference to Context:-

These lines have been taken from the poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” written by William Wordsworth. In this poem, the nurturing spirit of Nature is highlighted. The poem presents William Wordsworth’s basic philosophy that Nature shapes and moulds the character and personality of human beings. In this lyric, the story of Lucy is presented by Nature itself. Nature decides to adopt a child named Lucy and makes her a perfect child. Here nature is described by William Wordsworth as ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’ and ‘the guardian’ of man.

Explanation:-

The poet here says that Lucy will enjoy the sight of the starry sky at midnight. She will be anxious to listen the magical sounds coming from the distant places made by streams. Here the pictorial beauty of nature is expressed beautifully and faithfully. The poet says that the stream flows irregularly and creates gentle murmuring sound. According to the poet, Lucy must lean towards this murmuring sound to catch it as it will have its effect on her physical appearance. Her face shall become as beautiful as the music produced by streams and brooks. In this way, Lucy imbibes all the beauty of Nature which is reflected in her countenance. Here the references are to the overall development of Lucy’s personality. It firmly establishes the poet’s faith that nature not only nourishes the physical but also the emotional and spiritual life of man.

Stanza 6

And vital feeling ……………………… this happy dell

Reference to Context:-

These lines have been taken from the poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” written by William Wordsworth. In this poem, the nurturing spirit of Nature is highlighted. The poem presents William Wordsworth’s basic philosophy that Nature shapes and moulds the character and personality of human beings. In this lyric, the story of Lucy is presented by Nature itself. Nature decides to adopt a child named Lucy and makes her a perfect child. Here nature is described by William Wordsworth as ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’ and ‘the guardian’ of man.

Explanation:-

In these lines, Nature says that she will bring up Lucy Gray in a happy valley. Lucy will receive the feelings of Joy from nature and that joy will give a new life and energy to her. Nature will help her in attaining a good height and beautiful figure. Nature will also inspire life-giving thoughts in Lucy’s mind. Nature, in a way, contributes to the maturing of Lucy as a beautiful girl. Again the poet is referring to Lucy’s complete development, i.e. physical as well as spiritual development and emphasises the role of nature in the growth of human beings.

Stanza 7

Thus nature spake ……………………… more will be

Reference to Context:-

These lines have been taken from the poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” written by William Wordsworth. In this poem, the nurturing spirit of Nature is highlighted. The poem presents William Wordsworth’s basic philosophy that Nature shapes and moulds the character and personality of human beings. In this lyric, the story of Lucy is presented by Nature itself. Nature decides to adopt a child named Lucy and makes her a perfect child. Here nature is described by William Wordsworth as ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’ and ‘the guardian’ of man. These are the closing lines of the poem.

Explanation:-

In these lines, the poet says that nature fulfilled her promise. The little child, Lucy, grew up into a beautiful girl as a result of nature’s education. But alas, Lucy died soon. Here the poet introduces an element of tragic drama by declaring Lucy’s sudden and premature death. She left the barren land and the calm scene to the poet to wander alone. The poet feels desolate over the unexpected death of Lucy, who symbolises man’s harmonious relationship with nature. He mourns her death. It gives him great pain to think that he will never again be able to see the sweet face of Lucy. The poem ends on a very sad note.

Questions -Answer (Essay Type)

Q.1. Comment of the protective role of nature in the poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower”.

Ans.: This is one of ‘Lucy Poems’, where the nurturing spirit of nature is highlighted. The poem is the delineation of Wordsworth’s belief that Nature is ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’, and ‘the guardian’ of man. Here in this poem nature is personified as mother who resolves to adopt, rear, and educate her child, Lucy, in her ‘own’ natural way as opposed to the artificial life of society. Nature both impels man to do good deeds and restrains him from evil. She would inspire noble thoughts in Lucy. At the same time, she would keep her away from evil thoughts and actions. Nature promises to supervise and guide Lucy’s education. Nature acts as the sources of both encouragement and discipline to Lucy. Nature felt that Lucy would get a soothing effect from the silent objects of nature. She would learn playfulness form the deer. The floating clouds, the willow tree and the motions of the storm will add to her beauty. She would love the stars and would listen to the music of the streams. In this way, the poet is referring to Lucy’s complete development, i.e. physical as well as spiritual development, and emphasises the role of nature in the growth of human beings. It is significant to note the Wordsworth is not content with only the physical delight at the sight of natural objects like Cowper and Burns but from this physical delight, he delves deep into the spirituality of nature.

Q.2. Develop Wordsworth’s philosophy of Nature.

Ans.: Wordsworth was a lover of nature. He worshipped Nature in all its moods. He believed that Nature has a great influence on man’s life. It can make a person’s life perfect. Those who grow up in the lap of nature are the best persons. The poet says that Nature is the best teacher. Nature promises to act both as ‘impulse’ and as ‘law’ to the rustic child and, thus, educate her in her righteous ways and noble desires. Thus educated by nature she would naturally learn to restrain herself from excesses of thought and conduct. All-natural objects such as rock, plains, earth, heaven, glades and bowers would exercise a very healthy influence on Lucy’s physical and moral growth. She would learn the happiness of a sportive fawn, the stateliness of the floating clouds, humility of the bending willow, grace of motions of the storm, the beauty of the stars of midnight, and the sweetness of the murmuring sound of flowing rivulets. This is how all the objects and forces of nature would contribute to the physical and moral development of Lucy. Lucy will in this way, grow into a beautiful woman. Nature thus accomplished her self-appointed task; but unfortunately, the girl suddenly died, leaving the poet in utter desolation.

Thus nature imparts education to Lucy and moulds her mind as well as her body. This poem is a fine example of Wordsworth’s cardinal belief in the moral value of a life of simplicity and the shaping power of nature. Written in stanzas of six lines each, with rhyme scheme aab ccb, the poem belongs to the category of a lyrical ballad. The loftiness of the theme, the simplicity of poetic diction, a pathetic touch at the end, a colouring of imagination are the main strengths of the poem.

Q.3. Write a detailed note on the imagery in the poem.

Ans.: The poet uses several images in this poem. Lucy is called the loveliest flower. Here the comparison is made between Lucy and the most beautiful flower. She evokes in mind an image of beauty and freshness. In other words, the stress is on the purity and innocence of Lucy which shows her affinity and oneness with nature. Then she has been compared to the wild deer. She creates an image of wild deer jumping sportingly across the lawn or on the mountains. Wordsworth, through the romantic imagery of ‘a sportive fawn’, presents Lucy as an unusual phenomenon of extreme happiness that frolics gleefully in valleys and mountains. The kindling power makes Lucy glad and joyous as a playful fawn; the restraining power gives her the calmness and serenity of the mountains among which she lives. The images of the floating clouds and the running stream convey the openness of nature. There is an image of the secret places of nature where small streams flow and create a murmuring sound. Here the pictorial beauty of the expression is beautifully portrayed. Since it is a gentle murmuring sound, she must lean towards it to catch the sound. It is the beauty of Nature’s act of purifying the emotions of man through melodious music. There is also the image of beautiful stars at midnight. Thus the poet uses several beautiful images in this poem.

Q.4. Which of the characteristic features of Romantic poetry do you find in this lyrical ballad? Illustrate.

Ans.: Wordsworth was the best and the greatest romantic poet of this age. It was his famous work ‘Lyrical Ballads’ which he published in collaboration with S.T. Coleridge in 1798 and marked the beginning of the Romantic Movement in England, ushering in a new age of poetry of feeling and imagination. The chief characteristic of Wordsworth’s poetry is its sharp departure from both conventional themes and forms of the neoclassical poetry of the eighteenth century. His objections to an over stylised poetic diction, his attitude to Nature, his choice of simple incidents and humble people as subjects for his poetry characterise his unique achievement. He brought a completely new approach to the writing of poetry, which for Wordsworth is ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ taking its origin form ’emotion recollected its tranquillity.’ With this view of poetry, he made ‘the incidents of common life interesting’ his theory of poetic diction draws on ‘a selection from the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation’. But is not just physical pleasure that Wordsworth finds in Nature; he believes that Nature nourishes the emotional and spiritual life of man also. The call of high mountains, the sudden sight of daffodils by the dale, the sloping pastures, the deep and gloomy wood, all these uplift him from the mere plane of an ordinary, world of physical delight to a higher plane where he receives Nature’s moral and mystical messages. All these features of Romantic poetry are found in this poem. In this poem, nature itself is the narrator. Nature adopts Lucy and teaches her to take interest in her. This poem delineates his faith that man in constant and close communion with nature can lead a happy and peaceful life. This poem dramatically tells a verse story about an imaginary or unidentified girl. There is nothing to suggest that a girl named Lucy, who is the subject of the poem, ever existed, although she has been taken to be a real person. She lives in nature. She is wild like a deer. She roams about in the wild and silent spaces of nature. There are softly running streams, storms, night skies full of stars and other wild aspects of nature. There is a great bond between human beings and nature. In this poem, Lucy has a perfect bond with nature. She is a child adopted by Nature for moulding her into a perfect human being. Along with all these qualities, the language of the poem is simple which can easily be understood by a common reader. In this way, we can see all the characteristic features of Romantic poetry are there in this poem.

Q.5. What does the poet tell us about Lucy’s education?

Ans.: Wordsworth is the greatest romantic poet of nature. He believes that Nature is ‘the nurse’, ‘the guide’, and ‘the guardian’ of man. He believed in the educative role of nature. He says that nature is a fine moral teacher and conveys the idea that those who grow up in the lap of nature are the best persons than the one who is brought up in the artificial atmosphere of the cities. The poet shows immense faith in the educative influence of nature on man. He believes that one can learn a great lesson if one approaches nature with a pure and humble heart.

The poet illustrates this idea through the story of Lucy’s education by Nature. Nature sees the lovely child and decides to take her away from this world. Nature wants to bring her up on the right lines. Nature wants to check Lucy’s evil desires and inspires her to lead a noble life. Nature feels that natural objects such as places and shady corners will have a healthy influence on her. These objects keep a watch on her growth. Lucy will lead a very happy life. She sees the power of nature and takes inspiration from it. She becomes sportive like the deer. The beauty of the murmuring sound of streams passes on to her. Thus through her education, nature moulds Lucy into a perfect girl who learns to lead a pure and simple life. Lucy imbibes all the beauty of nature which is reflected in her countenance. The poet here is referring to Lucy’s complete development i.e. physical as well as spiritual development and emphasises the education of nature in the growth of human beings.

Questions -Answer (Short Type)

Q.1. The poet compares Lucy to a ‘fawn’. Do you consider the comparison apt? why?

Ans.: Yes, the comparison is apt. Wordsworth, through the romantic imagery of a sportive ‘fawn’, presents Lucy as an unusual phenomenon of extreme happiness that frolics gleefully in valleys and mountains. The image creates a pictorial allusion also.

Q.2. Explain: ‘overseeing power’, ‘breathing balm’, and ‘murmuring sound’.

Ans.: The ‘overseeing power’ in the poem is nature. The nature will surprise and guide Lucy’s education and thus help her. In her complete development i.e., physical as well as spiritual development nature plays an important role. ‘Breathing balm’, is the free open-air enjoyed by Lucy. ‘Murmuring sound’ is the soft music created by the flowing of streams. It is the beauty of nature’s act of purifying the emotions of man though melodious music. Lucy will enjoy this music.

Q.3. Comment on the expression ‘mute insensate things’?

Ans.: ‘The mute insensate things’ are the objects of nature like rocks and the fields. This phrase underlines the poet’s doctrine that beauty of nature can be seen even in the meanest objects. Lucy will enjoy the silences of these things. These objects will mould her life.

Q.4. Why does the poet use the antithesis ‘law and impulse’?

Ans.: The poet makes use of antithesis of ‘law and impulse’ to show the fact that nature acts as the sources of both encouragement and discipline to Lucy. The stress is clearly on the influence of nature on human beings. Nature as ‘law’ restrains man from acting waywardly; as ‘impulse’ it kindles in man noble feelings. Man’s need of both law and energy is a favourite idea with Wordsworth.

Q.5. Was Lucy’s death sudden and unexpected?

Ans.: Yes, Lucy’s death was sudden and unexpected. The fact is conveyed by line “How soon my Lucy’s race was run!” this expression signifies Lucy’s sudden and premature death. The poet feels desolate over her unexpected death that symbolises man’s harmonious relationship with nature and it’s the ultimate end.

Q.6. Give the sum and substance of the poem.

Ans. The poet says that nature is the best teacher and shows his immense faith in the educative influence of nature on man. He conveys the idea that a child living in close contact with nature becomes a better human being than the one who is brought up in the artificial atmosphere of the cities. He believes that one can learn a great lesson if one approaches nature with a pure and humble heart. Nature adopts Lucy and makes her a perfect child. She learns to live in harmony with nature. Thus nature plays a role of ‘the nurse’, the ‘the guide’ and ‘the guardian’ of man.

“Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower”by William Wordsworth

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