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There was a Boy Analysis



Author: Poetry of William Wordsworth Type: Poetry Views: 3368



There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander!--many a time,
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone,
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake;
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him.--And they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call,--with quivering peals,
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild
Of jocund din! And, when there came a pause
Of silence such as baffled his best skill:
Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain-torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.
This boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale
Where he was born and bred: the churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village-school;
And, through that church-yard when my way has led
On summer-evenings, I believe, that there
A long half-hour together I have stood
Mute--looking at the grave in which he lies!

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




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Wordsworth’s huge poetic legacy rests on a large number of significant poems. He argues that poetry should be written in the natural language of common speech--a language which not only poets and well-studied people will understand but also ordinary people-- rather than in the arrogant and extravagant styles that were then considered “poetic.” He argues that poetry should offer access to the emotions contained in memory. And he argues that the first principle of poetry should be pleasure, that the chief duty of poetry is to provide pleasure through a rhythmic and beautiful expression of feeling—for all human sympathy, he claims, is based on a delicate pleasure principle that is “the naked and native dignity of man.”
Many of Wordsworth’s poems (including masterpieces such “We are seven”, “The thorn”, and “The Boy of Winander”) deal with the subjects of childhood and the memory of childhood in the mind of the adult in particular, childhood’s lost connection with nature, which can be preserved only in memory. Wordsworth’s images and metaphors mix natural scenery, religious, and the relics of the poet’s rustic childhood. In Wordsworth’s poetry, childhood is a magical, glorious time of innocence. Children form an intense bond with nature, so much so that they appear to be a part of the natural world, rather than a part of the human, social world. Their relationship to nature is passionate and extreme: children feel joy at seeing a rainbow but great terror at seeing desolation or decay. As children age and reach maturity, they lose this connection but gain an ability to feel emotions, both good and bad. Through the power of the human mind, particularly memory, adults can recollect the devoted connection to nature of their youth.
Wordsworth believed that, upon being born, human beings move from a perfect, idealized realm into the imperfect, un-ideal earth. As children, some memory of the former purity and glory in which they lived remains, best perceived in the solemn and joyous relationship of the child to the beauties of nature because they are innocent and sinless. But as children grow older, the memory fades, and the magic of nature dies (Innocence). Still, the memory of childhood can offer an important consolation, which brings with it almost a kind of re-access to the lost purities of the past. And the maturing mind develops the capability to understand nature in human terms, and to see in it metaphors for human life, which compensate for the loss of the direct connection. I personally think that a child is like Adan and Eve before eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and then when the kid grow up become a sinner and lost the privilege to be innocent.
For as we know, the romanticism is characterized by the demand of freedom, subjectivism, predominance of feelings for the reason and \"pessimistic visions of life\". “We are seven”, “The thorn”, and “The Boy of Winander” are all poems that revolve around the death of children. Let’s take “The Boy of Winander” as an example:
“There was a Boy; ye knew him well…
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone,
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake; ….
He, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him.--And they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again,
Responsive to his call,… ”
(1-13)
In this fragment of the poem we can see the close interaction of the kid with nature, the boy is attempting to connect with nature trough \"hooting\" with the owls and to see if he will get a response. Maybe the poet is trying to say that at that moment this kid was still able to has an intimate relationship with nature, where by talking to the owl represent the innocence of a kid. Now let’s read another part of this poem:
“This boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale
Where he was born and bred: I believe, that there
A long half-hour together I have stood
Mute--looking at the grave in which he lies!”
(26-34)
Here the death of the kid maybe is not normal death, I believe that what the poet is referring with this is that when I child get to his/her 12 years old, he/she will start to think more reasonable and more critical; the period when the knowledge of the good and evil finally awakens, losing his/her innocence and the connection with nature.
By anonimusback

| Posted on 2013-05-14 | by a guest


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For full understanding of the poem, read The Most of It by Robert Frost. This has an opposite mood and will be good to compare and contrast to.

| Posted on 2013-01-02 | by a guest


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This poem reflects one boy\'s positive interaction or experience with nature. In the first few lines of the poem, the boy is attempting to connect with nature throught \"hooting\" with the owls and to see if he will get a response. The owl\'s response to the boy is an extension of the boy\'s own voice. There is a copious amount of noises: \"halloos, and screams.\" Then there is a shift in the poem that occurs: \"And, when there came a pause/ of silence such as baffled his best skill.\" The boy\'s best skill is the owl hooting and he is shocked when the owl\'s stop calling back. This forces the boy to start looking at nature, itself. He then gets a response from nature, but in a different way. Just as the lake reflects the beauty of the heavens (THAT is what is referred to in the last few lines!), the boy\'s heart is reflecting the beauty of nature around him. This poem emphasizes the beauty of being \"one with nature.\"
Many of the people who have made comments before seem to have misread this poem. Always make sure to check your sources and ask your teacher if you have questions. (Sparknotes is not reliable!)
My analysis comes from an AP class, college level analysis, and AP questions that prove the analysis.

| Posted on 2013-01-02 | by a guest


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If there is one aspect of poetry that is immediately clear, it is that intention is intention, meaning is meaning, and the ambiguity of such poetry is all that should be open to interpretation. While there are many dualities and subtle references to deeper, more meaningful motivation, it does the poet a disservice to overlook that which is plainly said. Taken from his mates, dead in his childhood, lying in a grave: together these images form a vision of departure, not of maturity, a \"coming of age\" here in nature. it is retrospection, the speaker one who knew the boy personally and reflects on the deceased after his death. The mute, grave perception indeed entails reverie, quiet introspection, but that is not to rule out the cause, which, simply put, is untimely death.

| Posted on 2012-11-13 | by a guest


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You, 2nd from the top, the one who talks about WW trust and has the really long analysis; are pure genius! I\'m gonna ace my english exam thanks to you. :)

| Posted on 2012-05-28 | by a guest


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Why dont you (the person who said \'such a neek\') get an education and learn to spell first?
Its true, there is no right or wrong in poetry: as long as you can support your interpretation properly it is as good as any others. I think that Wordsworth here shows that by listening in its truest form: opening all of ones senses, one can establish this communication with nature that the boy not only does by mimicking its characters (owls) but also by opening his mind and letting the image of the mountains into it.

| Posted on 2011-05-22 | by a guest


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The Wordsworth Trust believes this poem is about a childhood friend of Wordsworth called William Raincock, who they claim \'was well known for his owl impersonations\'. However, it is clear why there is ambiguity as to whether this poem was actually about himself: there is a paradox in that if the boy was actually \'alone\', then how would Wordsworth have witnessed him doing his \'mimic hootings\'? This gives some grounding to the idea that the death was actually metaphor for the loss of his childhood self, the true separation of which can be seen clearly in \'Elegiac Stanzas\', in which the death of his brother caused by a storm at sea (which he had previously believed \'calm\' and \'gentle\') causes him to question his belief in \'the consecration\' of nature. This is exemplified as early on as in his 1998 poem \'Nutting\' where he explores how \'the heart luxuriates with indifferent things/wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones\', in other words, man is inconsequential to nature: \'trampling waves\' will not pause to extinguish the life of anyone. Anyway, the identity of the boy aside, there are many other points in this poem. The writer claims \'ye knew him well...ye cliffs and islands of Winander\', suggesting he was so in tune with his natural surroundings that he was part of the scenery. Also the owls are described to \'shout\' in reply, giving them a human voice to further the impression of harmony between the boy and the owls, or a different analysis would be that the boy hears a human voice because he is lonely. There is a vast array of language used to describe the \'concourse wild\', Wordsworth pulls out all the stops here, with \'quivering peals/ And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud/ Redoubled and redoubled\'. Wordsworth has left no doubt here that the owls made one heck of a noise. And yet \'silence\' is repeated twice as well, as if Wordsworth wants to emphasis the quiet just as much as the noise, of course there are not half so many adjectives to describe silence, hence the repetition. The profoundness of the quiet, after such a joyous, \'jocund din\' is due to his sudden realisation of the sublime scenery before him, \'carried far into his heart\'. Because he has been listening so intently, he has learned to hear the \'voice\' of nature, and feel its power and vastness, the \'solemn imagery\' it bares. The \'uncertain heaven\' reflected in the \'bosom of the steady lake\' is his awareness that there may be a god, and the implications of this. Personally, I feel this poem is about the boy\'s journey from youth to maturity, where, in the middle of his amusement with the owls, he suddenly becomes aware of his insignificance compared to nature, and God. There is no wrong or right answer in poetry, so long as you have some contextual knowledge of the poet\'s life, and you try to emphasise with him/her you normally go down the right track, so it is not true that anyone ought to leave it \'to people who know what the hell they r talking about\', because we are all different and have different takes on life.

| Posted on 2011-05-21 | by a guest


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you guys are the biggest bunch of losers. u r arguaing over some srudpid poetry who cares \"meandrethalls lol ur such neek really get a life and stop ruining wordsworths poetry by your non sense. if u r not going to analyse the damn peom then shut up and leave it to people unlike US who know what the hell they r talking about.

| Posted on 2011-04-07 | by a guest


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Seriously none of these posts contain any analysis. There is so much to be said about this poem and none of you are saying anything even close to the preferred reading. Personal interpretation only goes so far. Let\'s start a debate...
Discuss how nature and childhood are presented in William Wordsworth\'s about a boy.

| Posted on 2011-01-02 | by a guest


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Are you seriously trying to tell me one of you neanderthalls thought that he threw himself off a cliff?!?! It is a poem about childhood MORONS. If you can\'t make a helpful analysis then don\'t bother posting. I know that poetry is open to interpretation but this is ridiculous

| Posted on 2010-12-09 | by a guest


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It is theorised that Wordsworth used this poem as a means to write about himself. He had lost both his parents by the age of 13 and as the second of five children it is presumable that he was forced into maturity before \'his time\' so to speak.
It is supported by the fact that he published this poem twice, as it was dearly important to him.

| Posted on 2010-11-17 | by a guest


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It is theorised that Wordsworth used this poem as a means to write about himself. He had lost both his parents by the age of 13 and as the second of five children it is presumable that he was forced into maturity before \'his time\' so to speak.
It is supported by the fact that he published this poem twice, as it was dearly important to him.
And the rest of you....LEARN HOW TO SPELL....idiots

| Posted on 2010-11-17 | by a guest


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One thing to note is that the solitude felt by the boy is transferred to the poet once the boy is dead.

| Posted on 2010-06-07 | by a guest


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it is the tortured soul of an innocent boy ravaged as his youthful purity is taken from him and thrust over a cliff. if it is thrust it is not an accident. this shows the inner conflict between innocence and depressing real world experience as he attempts to reconcile the two. all the while, there is still external conflict with the pastoral scene around him.
i would suggest to any devout readers of wordsworth to look into "The most of it" by robert frost for some comparison ideas.

| Posted on 2010-05-02 | by a guest


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This speaks of a boy who is lonely, struggling with his own fear, trying to find the God he thinks exists.

| Posted on 2010-01-19 | by a guest


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Wordsworth is reflecting upon how as a child matures he loses the sense of purity and wonder that has always acompanied him. Some people theorize that the boy is actually the young Wordsworth but that has never been proven. This poem reflects Wordsworth's view of life. He believed that when a child was born, he still harbored meomories of the perfect place from which he came. These memories allow a child to see the simple beauty of nature and to communicate on a spiritual level with it.
When it talks about the child's death, it is not meant to be taken literally, rather it is meant to be the death of the innocence that lived inside the boy as he was growing up, but has disappeared as the boy matured. In the second to last line, when Wordsworth describes how he stood mutely over the grave of the child, he is describing how the imagination has been silenced and now only memories allow him to communicate as he used to as a child.

| Posted on 2010-01-10 | by a guest


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weve studied this poem in are english lit class, the young boy dieing is the young worsworth after his parents died he feels that his childhood died with it and he had to mature and move on thats why when he stands over the boys grave and is mute he is just remingnising of the times he had as a child.

| Posted on 2009-11-25 | by a guest


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definitely taking this too literally. yall have no analysis of the deeper meaning.

| Posted on 2009-09-29 | by a guest


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I think this is a beautiful elegy to a young boy who died too soon. The boy was apparently very attuned to nature and Wordsworth recognized this and by visiting the boy's grave tries to capture some of the boy's innate ability to feel nature by standing mute beside the grave.

| Posted on 2009-09-11 | by a guest


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I think were meant to analyse it ourselves???
Well I think that. along with many of Wordsworth's poems, there is a theme of untimeley death, youth connected with nature and he has written many elegys.
He is a very skillful writer but you always have to interpret his poems, the meanings are never written clear to see. x

| Posted on 2009-05-26 | by a guest


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YOU GUYS DONT EVER EVER EVER HAVE ANYALYSIS....liars:(

| Posted on 2009-04-28 | by a guest




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