'Resolution And Independence' by William Wordsworth

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There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.


All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.


I was a Traveller then upon the moor,
I saw the hare that raced about with joy;
I heard the woods and distant waters roar;
Or heard them not, as happy as a boy:
The pleasant season did my heart employ:
My old remembrances went from me wholly;
And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.


But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might
Of joy in minds that can no further go,
As high as we have mounted in delight
In our dejection do we sink as low;
To me that morning did it happen so;
And fears and fancies thick upon me came;
Dim sadness--and blind thoughts, I knew not, nor could name.


I heard the sky-lark warbling in the sky;
And I bethought me of the playful hare:
Even such a happy Child of earth am I;
Even as these blissful creatures do I fare;
Far from the world I walk, and from all care;
But there may come another day to me--
Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.


My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,
As if life's business were a summer mood;
As if all needful things would come unsought
To genial faith, still rich in genial good;
But how can He expect that others should
Build for him, sow for him, and at his call
Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?


I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,
The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;
Of Him who walked in glory and in joy
Following his plough, along the mountain-side:
By our own spirits are we deified:
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.


Now, whether it were by peculiar grace,
A leading from above, a something given,
Yet it befell, that, in this lonely place,
When I with these untoward thoughts had striven,
Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven
I saw a Man before me unawares:
The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.


As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie
Couched on the bald top of an eminence;
Wonder to all who do the same espy,
By what means it could thither come, and whence;
So that it seems a thing endued with sense:
Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;


Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,
Nor all asleep--in his extreme old age:
His body was bent double, feet and head
Coming together in life's pilgrimage;
As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage
Of sickness felt by him in times long past,
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.


Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,
Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood:
And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,
Upon the margin of that moorish flood
Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood,
That heareth not the loud winds when they call
And moveth all together, if it move at all.


At length, himself unsettling, he the pond
Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look
Upon the muddy water, which he conned,
As if he had been reading in a book:
And now a stranger's privilege I took;
And, drawing to his side, to him did say,
"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."


A gentle answer did the old Man make,
In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:
And him with further words I thus bespake,
"What occupation do you there pursue?
This is a lonesome place for one like you."
Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise
Broke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes,


His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,
But each in solemn order followed each,
With something of a lofty utterance drest--
Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach
Of ordinary men; a stately speech;
Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,
Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.


He told, that to these waters he had come
To gather leeches, being old and poor:
Employment hazardous and wearisome!
And he had many hardships to endure:
From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance,
And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.


The old Man still stood talking by my side;
But now his voice to me was like a stream
Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;
And the whole body of the Man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.


My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,
My question eagerly did I renew,
"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"


He with a smile did then his words repeat;
And said, that, gathering leeches, far and wide
He travelled; stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the pools where they abide.
"Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."


While he was talking thus, the lonely place,
The old Man's shape, and speech--all troubled me:
In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace
About the weary moors continually,
Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued,
He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.


And soon with this he other matter blended,
Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,
But stately in the main; and when he ended,
I could have laughed myself to scorn to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;
I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"

Submitted by Damon Ramsey

Editor 1 Interpretation

Resolution And Independence by William Wordsworth

Have you ever stumbled upon a person of an older age who appears to be living in solitude, without any trace of bitterness or grudge against life? If so, you must have been in awe of their unwavering spirit and determination to carry on with life. William Wordsworth’s poem, “Resolution And Independence,” is a tribute to such individuals, who despite facing adversity, hold onto their firm belief in a higher power and the goodness of life.


William Wordsworth was a major figure in the Romantic Movement in English literature, and his works are known for their emphasis on nature and the ordinary life of common people. "Resolution And Independence" is one of his most renowned works, and it was published in 1802 in the second edition of Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems that marked the beginning of the Romantic movement in English literature.

The poem was inspired by Wordsworth's encounter with an old leech gatherer who was collecting leeches in the Lake District, where Wordsworth was living at the time. The old man's determination and perseverance left a profound impact on Wordsworth, and he captured the essence of the old man's spirit in his poem.


The poem comprises 7 stanzas, each with 12 lines, and follows a rhyming scheme of ABABCC. The poem begins with a description of the speaker's state of mind, as he reflects on his failures and the difficulties of life. The speaker feels lost and hopeless, as if he has reached a dead-end, where there is no way out.

However, his melancholic mood is disrupted by the sight of an old man who is collecting leeches. The old man is presented as a symbol of resilience and perseverance. Despite his old age and the arduous task of collecting leeches, the old man is not deterred; he carries on with his work with unwavering determination.

The speaker is impressed by the old man's spirit and decides to engage him in conversation. The conversation that follows is the highlight of the poem, as the old man imparts his wisdom to the speaker. The old man tells the speaker about his struggles in life, about how he had to face poverty and hardship, but he never lost faith in God and the goodness of life.

The old man's words serve as a source of inspiration for the speaker, who is moved by the old man's faith and determination. The speaker realizes that he has been too preoccupied with his own problems and has lost sight of the beauty and goodness of life.

In the last stanza, the speaker expresses his gratitude to the old man, and the poem ends with a note of hope and optimism, as the speaker vows to carry on with his life, inspired by the old man's spirit.


"Resolution And Independence" is a poem that celebrates the resilience and perseverance of the human spirit. It portrays the old man as a symbol of hope and inspiration, who despite the hardships of life, never lost faith in God and the goodness of life.

The poem is also a reflection on the human condition, on the struggles and difficulties that we all face in life. The speaker's melancholic mood at the beginning of the poem represents the feelings of despair and hopelessness that we all experience at some point in our lives. However, the old man's words serve as a reminder that no matter how difficult life may seem, there is always hope and a reason to carry on.

The poem also highlights the importance of human connection and empathy. The speaker's interaction with the old man serves as a catalyst for his transformation, as he is inspired by the old man's spirit and wisdom. The poem suggests that we can all learn from each other, and that by sharing our experiences and wisdom, we can enrich each other's lives.


"Resolution And Independence" is a timeless poem that celebrates the resilience and perseverance of the human spirit. It is a reminder that no matter how difficult life may seem, there is always hope and a reason to carry on. The poem also highlights the importance of human connection and empathy, and the power of sharing our experiences and wisdom.

As we navigate through life's challenges, we can draw inspiration from the old man's spirit, and his unwavering faith in God and the goodness of life. We can also strive to be like the old man, to be resilient and perseverant in the face of adversity, and to never lose sight of the beauty and goodness of life.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

William Wordsworth is one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic era, and his poem "Resolution and Independence" is a classic example of his work. This poem is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece that explores the themes of nature, perseverance, and the human spirit. In this analysis, we will delve into the meaning and significance of this poem, and explore the ways in which Wordsworth uses language and imagery to convey his message.

The poem begins with the speaker describing his own feelings of despair and hopelessness. He is wandering through the countryside, feeling lost and alone, when he comes across an old man who is gathering sticks. The old man is a leech-gatherer, a profession that was common in Wordsworth's time, and he is described as being "worn out with age and service." Despite his advanced years, the old man is still working hard, and the speaker is struck by his resilience and determination.

The speaker engages the old man in conversation, and they talk about their respective experiences in life. The old man tells the speaker about his struggles and hardships, and how he has managed to overcome them through sheer force of will. He speaks of the importance of perseverance and determination, and how these qualities have helped him to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world.

As the conversation continues, the speaker begins to feel a sense of hope and inspiration. He realizes that, like the old man, he too can overcome his difficulties and find a way forward. He is filled with a renewed sense of purpose and determination, and he resolves to continue on his journey with renewed vigor.

The poem is a powerful meditation on the human spirit, and the ways in which we can find strength and resilience in the face of adversity. Wordsworth uses language and imagery to convey this message, and his use of nature imagery is particularly effective. The countryside is described in vivid detail, with Wordsworth painting a picture of a world that is both beautiful and harsh. The leech-gatherer is a part of this world, and his resilience and determination are a testament to the power of the human spirit.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is the way in which Wordsworth uses language to convey the speaker's emotional state. The opening lines are filled with despair and hopelessness, with the speaker feeling lost and alone in the world. However, as the conversation with the leech-gatherer progresses, the tone of the poem shifts, and the speaker's mood becomes more hopeful and optimistic. This shift is conveyed through the use of language, with Wordsworth using words and phrases that are more positive and uplifting as the poem progresses.

Another important aspect of the poem is the way in which Wordsworth explores the theme of nature. The countryside is described in great detail, with Wordsworth using vivid imagery to convey the beauty and harshness of the natural world. The leech-gatherer is a part of this world, and his resilience and determination are a testament to the power of nature. Wordsworth suggests that we can find strength and inspiration in the natural world, and that by connecting with nature, we can find a way forward in life.

In conclusion, "Resolution and Independence" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the themes of nature, perseverance, and the human spirit. Wordsworth uses language and imagery to convey his message, and his use of nature imagery is particularly effective. The poem is a powerful meditation on the human spirit, and the ways in which we can find strength and resilience in the face of adversity. It is a testament to the power of nature, and a reminder that we can find hope and inspiration in the world around us.

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